Dementia care ward opens at Queen Mary's Hospital

Design improvements make ward more dementia-friendly

Queen Mary’s Hospital in Sidcup has re-opened Holbrook Ward after an extensive refurbishment project aimed at making the facility more dementia friendly.

A specialist intensive care unit for those with advanced dementia, Holbrook Ward has a lounge, dining area, kitchen, indoor potting shed, ladies’ hair salon, launderette, and activity room, all decorated with feature retro wallpaper with a 1950s reminiscence theme.

During the revamp specialists worked with the a team from Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the hospital, to ensure a stimulating and homely environment was created for patients, carers and staff.

The kitchen is fully functioning and can be used by visitors to make a cup of tea or eat a meal with their loved ones – helping to encourage patients to use these skills and not lose them.

The lounge and dining area have been designed to look like a real home, with pictures on the walls, ornaments and accessories to make the areas look inviting and familiar.

Modern matron, Angela Williams, said: “We provide person-centred care, an approach developed by professor Thomas Kitwood, who has pioneered dementia care since the 1990s.

“This means that we provide care which values the person’s sense of identity and their occupation that meets their need for attachment and comfort and is inclusive. This type of care has been shown to support people with dementia to communicate and engage in day-to-day activities. To support this we have a retro-styled lounge, dining area and kitchen, in addition to our themed potting shed and salon and we believe we have provided an environment to get the best outcomes for our patients.”

Service manager, Rachel Matheson, added: “For many of our patients, they come straight from their home into hospital, which is a very difficult time for them. By coming into an environment that looks and feels more like home than a hospital, we hope they will feel more at ease and the transition can be made easier.

“One of the main improvements of the new environment relates to increased lighting levels because research indicates that as we get older we need higher levels of light. This enables us not only to see as clearly as possible so that we can mobilise safely, but also promotes healthy patterns of waking and sleeping which can often be disturbed for those with dementia.

“The themed rooms and areas provide meaningful activities, reminiscence opportunities, and landmark objects such as the fireplace and launderette, which can help our patients remember where they are on the ward. The patients will benefit hugely from this change, but also their visitors will too. They can come in knowing they can initiate activities, whether it be making a cup of tea in the kitchen, painting or crafting in the activity room, or sitting to watch television in our lounge.

“Carers who came to see the transformation ahead of their loved ones moving back into the ward said it would make a big difference to both visitors and patients.”

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