Yeovil Hospital recognises that a significant number of patients have dementia and has recently run a highly successful awareness programme which has, to date, been attended by over 1100 staff from across the hospital.

 

Dementia is a disease in which there is a progressive deterioration of the brain tissue and its functions – it is not an inevitable consequence of ageing. One in 20 people at the age of 60 suffer from some form of dementia increasing to one in five at 80 years.

Symptoms include:

A diminishing ability to recall recent memories – they may not recognise their nearest and dearest

  • Poor judgment – they may misjudge the heat of the cooker; be unable to judge if they are ill and have problems judging distance.
  • Language
  • Use of inappropriate words and the inability to name people, complete sentences, express themselves and understand what is said
  • Daily tasks – getting dressed in the wrong order
  • Hallucinations– they may see things that are not there eg a dog in the ward; snakes in their garden

Preparing for hospital

Coming into a hospital is a daunting experience for many, and even more so for those with dementia. We have found that learning about our patients with dementia from their family and carers really helps us to offer the care they need. However, when someone comes into hospital unexpectedly it can be difficult to pass this information on and think beyond the immediate worries.

We have developed three documents (see buttons below) for you to fill in with your relative/friend at a time of calm so you can be prepared just in case they are admitted into hospital. These documents can be used in hospital, care home environment, or at home to help anyone coming in to understand the individual’s needs, but also to help them to engage using the memories in the pack.

Music is extremely powerful and being able to respond to music is something that people with dementia are frequently still able to do. ‘Playlist for Life’ is an organisation that encourages families and caregivers to create a playlist of personally meaningful music for people with dementia. They have produced videos to help guide you through the process of creating a playlist, and you can view these here. Alternatively we can help create playlists for your relative to listen to while in hospital, and have included a document to help with this. We ask that you tell us about your relative’s favourite music and any memories that may be associated with that music so that we can work with you to put together a personalised playlist for them.

Director of Nursing, Helen Ryan said: “Dementia can have a devastating impact on the people who develop it and the families who care for them. A great deal can be done to help people overcome the problem of dementia, to prevent crises and improve the quality of life of all involved.

“We have to ensure people with dementia are properly diagnosed – it is estimated that only one third of those with dementia are diagnosed with it. The GP should be the first port of call if anyone has concerns about a loved one developing dementia. Evidence indicates that carer support and counselling at diagnosis can reduce care home placement by 28%.”

The awareness sessions are just one of the initiatives that Yeovil District Hospital is doing as part of its work to implement the National Dementia Strategy ‘Putting People First’.

Yeovil Hospital staff have been trained to involve carers as much as they can because they are a vital source of help and information in getting to know and understand the patient and can help with communication.

A project which is enabling staff to better understand their patients is a ‘This is me’ patient passport which is compiled by the carers to help their loved one have a better experience in hospital. It contains information about the patient’s life history. Many dementia patients think they are living in their youth so this enables staff to understand more about what is going on in their minds.

The hospital is also exploring the use of ‘treasure boxes’ for patients which would contain mementos and photos to help them feel more secure in unfamiliar surroundings.The hospital is reviewing the menus it provides to dementia patients and is considering producing pictorial versions to help the patient better understand the choices. The provision of special crockery and cutlery will also help.

Helen said: “We recognise we still have much more to do to improve the care we give to patients admitted to hospital who also happen to have dementia. However the progress we have made and the engagement by all staff in the hospital is very positive.

“We can all play a part in protecting and supporting people with dementia and their carers. The important thing is, if anyone has concerns, to contact their GP to get an early diagnosis. Not all confusion is a result of dementia. It may be due to other physical illnesses such as a chest or urine infection, flu and depression.”

Additional information

For more information you can view the following websites:

Dementia UK
Alzheimers
Playlist for life

Information is also available from the Yeovil, Sherborne and District Branch of the Alzheimer’s Society on 01935 473597 email Yeovil.sherborne@alzheimers.org.uk or can be found on the NHS Choices website.

Contact us

If you have any questions and want to speak to the Dementia team, you can call us on:

Telephone: 01935 384960