Plan To Make Hospital Stays Better


SAUSALITO (ASRN.ORG) - A scheme to help people with dementia receive better care when they go into hospital will be launched in Norfolk next week.

The Alzheimer's Society and Royal College of Nursing have created a booklet called This is Me for people with dementia and their carers to fill out in advance of a hospital visit.

It can cover everything from hobbies and interests to whether they like a shower or a bath and what they like for breakfast.

The scheme is being launched at a public talk in Norwich on Tuesday on improving care for patients with dementia when they go into hospital.

Laura Meadowcroft, locality manager for Norfolk for the Alzheimer's Society, said its research showed people with dementia needed better care when they went into hospital.

“Someone with dementia in an acute hospital on average stays in a week longer than someone without dementia who goes in for the same problem. This has an impact on their health,” she said.

“I think it is a really positive thing to have something that will make hospital stays a bit better.”

The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital is estimated to have 200 or more patients with dementia at any one time. There are now specialist dementia nurses from Norfolk and Waveney Mental Health Trust based there to help look after them. Mrs Meadowcroft said this was improving the situation “but is not enough”.

Pauline Elliott, 67, from Lowestoft, has been trying to improve dementia care since her mother, Dorothy Bilton, died 20 years ago. Formerly a teacher, she changed career to work for the Alzheimer's Society. Now retired, she is a public governor of Norfolk and Waveney Mental Health Trust.

She said: “The aim is that, when someone goes into hospital, the leaflet is filled in beforehand and accompanies them. It briefs the ward staff about what makes them tick.

“I think the proof will be in the pudding but it is a way forward: it is worth trying, and certainly better than doing nothing.”

Mrs Elliott will be taking part in the talk on Tuesday. She has personal experience of the theme as it was during her mother's stay in the James Paget University Hospital at Gorleston 10 months before her death that she became more confused and unable to return to living in her own home.

Mrs Elliott said: “I will be talking about the trauma of going into an acute hospital for someone who is already very confused because of their dementia, and how difficult an environment that is for the patient, and how they need specialist consideration in a hospital environment.”

Booklets will be available at the talk or from Alzheimer's Society offices in Norwich, King's Lynn, Great Yarmouth, Thetford and Holt. They are free to people with dementia, their carers and health professionals.

People who want to find out more about dementia care while in a general hospital can attend the talk, called Coming into hospital: improving care for patients with dementia.

The mental health trust and N&N are hosting the event at the John Innes Centre, at Colney, and it is open to the public.

David Prior, chairman of the N&N, said: “Our staff are working closely with those in mental health to learn new skills and ensure we provide the best possible care for patients with dementia.”

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