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Dave- digital reminiscence therapy supports patients with dementia

Patient Mair Whitby and Jennie Gatley, craft volunteer on ward G4

Patients with dementia receiving inpatient care at West Suffolk Hospital are now being supported by a state-of-the-art digital reminiscence therapy system, which staff have nicknamed Dave. Dave helps patients with dementia and elderly inpatients to have a more comfortable stay by providing access to archives of historic photos, music, games and even by allowing patients to take their own photos.

Hospital is an unfamiliar place to most patients who are admitted, but for patients with dementia this unfamiliarity can be even more distressing. West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust is committed to making  the hospital experience as enjoyable as possible for dementia patients, their families and carers, and purchasing a digital reminiscence therapy system is its latest dementia friendly initiative.

Hannah Cousins, nursing assistant at West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, explains the positive impact Dave has had when used with patients: “Many of our patients can become stressed and agitated when in our care. One recent patient was particularly anxious before leaving hospital to return home. He didn’t want to watch television but told me that he loved music, especially bagpipes. I used the Scottish music section of Dave, our digital reminiscence machine, and he was immediately more relaxed and happier. Other staff who saw him said he seemed like a different man. It is really important for us to have alternative ways to engage and interact with all our patients, but sometimes patients with dementia need extra support, and supporting him to get into a more positive frame of mind before leaving hospital is really rewarding.”

Dave was made possible by funds raised by the Trust’s My Wish Charity Forget-Me-Not dementia campaign. With the original aim of raising £25,000 to create a memory walk, the fundraising campaign has now raised over £100,000, enabling more dementia friendly initiatives across the Trust.

West Suffolk Hospital’s ward G4 primarily supports elderly patients and those with dementia. It has been made a dementia-friendly environment, with different coloured bays to help patients distinguish the bays, and signage with visual picture signs to help patients find their way round. A self-named ‘calm cart’ is available at all times for staff to access for any patient in distress. The cart is kitted out with ‘twiddlemuffs’, small brightly knitted circles of fabric made by volunteers to provide stimulation and comfort to patients with dementia, and aromatherapy oil for hand massages.

Hospital volunteers visit the ward regularly to provide social interaction for patients. Some host crafting afternoons in the day room, others use puzzles, books and board games to entertain, as well as taking them to view and chat about the memory walk.

Julie Fountain, lead nurse for dementia and frail elderly at West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, said: “A recent snap shot survey in March showed that 28% of adult inpatients in West Suffolk Hospital had memory problems. Our local population is one of the oldest in the country, and as the likelihood of developing dementia increases significantly with age, it is important that our hospitals are accessible and accommodating to patients with dementia to ensure they have a stress free visit. Taking the time to know their personal preferences, likes, dislikes and interests is vital and helps reassure them when in our care.”

Last updated: 17 May 2017 09:24:58.573

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