Dementia-friendly ward opens at St Mary's Hospital


London trust improves environment for dementia patients

A new dementia-friendly ward has opened at St Mary’s Hospital.

The facility has been developed to reduce confusion for patients and to make them feel safe and secure during their stay in hospital.

It is the latest in a long line of measures made to improve the environment for dementia patients at the Paddington hospital.

The work on Witherow Ward has been carried out with funding provided by the Imperial College Healthcare Charity.

Key improvements include:

  • Specialist lighting which mimics changes in natural light to help prevent patients from being confused about the time of day by artificial lighting
  • A social area where patients can eat their meals together and which is painted orange to help stimulate appetite, as many patients with dementia do not eat enough
  • Pictures chosen by the patients themselves and hung over their bed to help them find it
  • Doors painted in contrasting colours to help patients easily find the showers and toilets
  • Matt wooden flooring, which replaces the old shiny blue-coloured flooring that could be confused by some elderly patients as water
  • Clocks from the Alzheimer’s Society that tell the time and date, which are known to help orientate patients with dementia

A specialist cubicle has also been developed within the A&E department at the Praed Street hospital to support dementia patients, with a specialist heated trolley and activity packs to help create a more-calm and secure environment for patients with dementia .

Jo James, specialist dementia lead at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, which runs the hospital, said: “We know that being admitted to hospital, especially through a busy A&E department, can be really distressing for people with dementia and for their carers and families.

“With increasing numbers of patients with dementia, it’s vital that we rethink how we organise and design hospital spaces, and making our spaces clearer and more relaxing will bring benefits to all patients.”

Ian Lush, chief executive of Imperial College Healthcare Charity, added: “The funds raised enable the trust to provide patients with improved facilities which go beyond the everyday.

“The lighting, flooring and social area on this newly-refurbished ward all aim to ensure that the trust’s most-vulnerable patients are able to access medical expertise in an environment which can help aid their recovery.

“We have also provided artworks for the ward from our collection of art, which is displayed throughout the hospitals for the benefit of patients, staff and visitors.”

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Over recent months the hospital has also adopted a carer’s passport scheme to encourage and support carers to visit whenever they want to, has introduced bento boxes to allow patients to snack on healthy food throughout the day, and is handing out activity packs to help keep dementia sufferers relaxed and occupied.