Rising to the challenge of dementia care in hospital

Professor Alistair Burns, National Clinical Director for Dementia, was joined by one of the nation’s favourite poets as well as doctors, nurses, voluntary group members and people living with dementia at the second annual conference highlighting latest progress in dementia care across the South West.

The conference, held in Taunton on Tuesday 5 July, opened with poetry by Matt Harvey, well known humorist and poet who has a special interest in mental health.

The conference showcased areas of excellence including:

  • A Dementia Charter at Royal United Hospitals, Bath
  • Partnership working between care homes and hospitals in Cornwall to ensure better end of life care
  • Dementia education for staff in Torbay Hospital
  • Personalised information for dementia patients at University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Bristol, and a specialist ward for patients with dementia at Southmead Hospital, Bristol;
  • Working with compassion and care, drawing on the experiences of people living with dementia

Alison Moon, Chief Nurse at University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, is NHS South West Champion for Dementia Care and leads a regional Expert Reference Group which brings together clinical leads in dementia from hospitals across the South West.

Alison said:

“In the South West we are working hard in partnership with the Alzheimer’s Society to improve hospital care for patients with dementia. A national audit of dementia care in hospitals has been conducted and the full report will be published later this year.

Here in the South West we are listening to the experiences and concerns of people with dementia, their families, carers and staff and developed eight common standards for hospital care. This means that patients should expect the same standard of care in any general hospital across the South West. Over the next two years we will systematically implement these standards, alongside the findings of the national audit to transform hospital care for people with a dementia.

Hospital staff, patients, volunteers, relatives, carers and commissioners all have roles to play in achieving these standards and we are working closely with them to ensure that people with dementia receive consistently high quality care and support.”

Professor Alistair Burns, National Clinical Director For Dementia at the Department of Health (See biography) addressed the conference on “What Does Excellence Look Like?”

Professor Burns said:

“Dementia Awareness Week is a great opportunity to focus on what matters most for people living with dementia, not just patients and carers but the wider health and social care community.

I know there has been significant progress in the South West and I am very much looking forward to sharing the latest ideas at this regional conference, which I know will celebrate success but also calls everyone to rise to the challenge of improving dementia care.”

Professor Burns is a Past President of the International Psychogeriatric Association, is on the board of the European Association of Geriatric Psychiatry, chair of the UK Alzheimer’s Society Medical and Scientific Panel, an Associate Director of the UK Dementia and Neurodegenerative Diseases Network (DeNDRoN) and a member of the Medical Research Council College of Experts.

Other expert speakers include Chloe Hood, Programme Manager at the National Audit of Dementia, Royal College of Psychiatrists; Dr Chris Dyer, consultant geriatrician and clinical lead in the older people’s unit at Royal United Hospital Bath NHS Trust; Jill Hoyle, Matron in Elderly Care at Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust and Jane Buswell, Nurse Consultant for Older People and Clinical Lead for Dementia Care at University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust.

The South West already has the largest proportion of older people in the country, and the longest life expectancy. Latest figures show that 76,000 people in the region are living with dementia and this is likely to increase by 50 per cent over the next 15 years.
Conference speakers and guests will also be invited to raise their voices in song– this recognises the benefits of Singing For The Brain which has been widely developed by the Alzheimer’s Society as a stimulating and sociable activity for people with memory problems.

Somerset based song maker Caroline David will offer ‘singing for the heart‘ – songs drawn from the experience of being alongside people with dementia as friend and carer.