Looking to use volunteers in dementia care

Via Bristol Evening Post

Two Bristol hospitals are working together to develop the role of ‘dementia champions’ to support patients as part of plans to improve the experience of patients on wards.

As well as looking at bringing volunteers onto Bristol hospital wards, managers are looking at other ways they can make admissions less daunting for people with dementia.

Magnets and signs have been designed to help hospital staff identify patients with dementia and colourful crockery is being brought in to make it easier for people to retain more independence.

Gareth Howells, deputy director of nursing at North Bristol NHS Trust, which runs Frenchay and Southmead hospitals, has been leading the project. He said:

“There is provision in place already but we want to improve that. A large number of people who come through our service have some degree of cognitive impairment, from memory loss at one end of the scale to full-blown dementia.

Hospitals are scary places when you are young but it’s worse if you’ve got cognitive impairment and you haven’t got your loved ones with you. We are looking at care and the environment for this group of patients which is good for them but also for all patients.”

The trust is working with the voluntary group and leagues of friends to come up with the dementia champion roles where volunteers would provide help and support on wards.

The role has not been finalised but it is hoped that they will be able to bring their life experience to spot things that could be done better on wards and support patients.