We were proud to support World Alzheimer’s Month, an international campaign which aimed to raise awareness and challenge the stigma that surrounds dementia.
At St Andrew’s Healthcare in Northampton, we care for around 65 people with complex dementia. Our patients are with us because they are presenting challenging behaviour, cognitive decline and limited or inappropriate social interaction. In addition, many patients have additional physical and mental health needs that require management. We provide safe, stimulating and highly specialised care to help support these patients and manage their conditions.
Within our dementia wards, we use a variety of technology to comfort, challenge and relax our patients – in fact, a recent visit from the Care Quality Commission led inspectors to describe us as ‘Outstanding’ in this area. The care offered to each patient is personalised to their needs; for example, one patient has a talking device which features a picture of a family member and a recorded voice message, which the patient finds both reassuring and supportive.
Some of our patients make use of weighted dolls and soft toys, which are used to actively engage patients at all stages of dementia. Sinead Fay, Clinical Nurse Lead said: ‘’Making use of the weighted dolls has given some of our patients and staff some lovely memories. To see how our patients nurture and care for them has at times brought staff to tears – the patients’ memories and emotions have never been lost.
"To know we can reminisce in this way truly builds the best therapeutic relationship. The weighted therapy dolls have to be used correctly and at the right time to see their full therapeutic potential. If they are received well then it is truly heart-warming to see the interaction between our patients and the dolls."
Our dementia wards have been decorated to encourage patients to remember things, and thus improve their quality of life. One of our wards, Daniel Rambaut, features pictures of Elvis Presley, a pop-up bar area and a selection of vintage film posters. There’s also a selection of tactile boards in the corridors, for patients to touch.
"Having the tactile boards a very good way of our patients to explore their other senses," Sinead added. "Sadly due to dementia the other senses can become confusing, so we encourage patients to feel the different textures and to explain what they feel like."
Patients can also experience the colours and sounds of the ocean, by enjoying a virtual fish tank which is located in a communal area. "Our patients especially enjoy watching the fish tank during our relaxation hour after lunch time," Sinead said. "To see our patients relax with the sound of the water is heart-warming."
The Alzheimer’s Society has published a wealth of information regarding the types of dementia, support available and advice on how to support and care for someone with dementia.
To catch up on the Twitter conversation around World Alzheimer’s Month, use the #WorldAlzMonth hashtag.