Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust’s charity, Brighter Futures, has launched a new appeal which aims to raise vital funds to improve care for patients living with dementia, who have a stay in hospital.
It is common knowledge that we have a rapidly ageing population, but the risk of dementia increases with age with one in six over the age of 80 having a diagnosis of dementia.
At Great Western Hospital, approximately 3-5 per cent of all patients discharged each month have a diagnosis of dementia; this equates to about 150-200 patients per month. Some of them will also be discharged to a care home setting, despite living in their own home before they were admitted.
The Brighter Futures’ Dementia Appeal will be split into three phases, with the first phase setting a target of raising £33,000 by March 31 2021.
With this money, the charity will replace clocks around the hospital with dementia-friendly clocks that display not only the time, but the day, date and weather.
They will also purchase a Reminiscence Interactive Therapy Activities (RITA) machine which is a valuable resource for patients living with dementia.
The pre-loaded system can be used by patients themselves or with a nurse, therapist or carer to engage them in a range of activities. These include listening to music, showing them photos, interactive games and even replaying famous speeches the patient may connect with.
Tim Allen, Dementia Specialist Admiral Nurse, said: “The first phase of the appeal will go such a long way in improving the stay for our patients in hospital.
“The clocks will support with familiarity and display information that is easier to interpret – often, patients with dementia can get easily confused and do not always recognise where they are or what time it is, so these clocks will really help those staying or moving around the hospital.
“The RITA machine will be beneficial in triggering memories and emotions in our patients, especially as they can be tailored to display sounds and visuals that are directly relatable to each patient.
“Our ambitions won’t stop there though, and the appeal will continue over the course of next year as we want to raise enough money to make a number of our older persons wards ‘dementia-friendly’, with soft furnishings, bright colours and adapted flooring.
“We also want to create areas around the hospital for our dementia patients to sit, such as a 1950s style tea room and a dementia-friendly garden.”
Dr Sarah White, Consultant Geriatrician, said: “It is really important that we make a stay in hospital for individuals with dementia as comfortable and supported as possible. This is particularly important as we know people with dementia are at a higher risk of falling in unfamiliar environments or developing worsening of their confusion, known as delirium.
“It can be even more distressing for people with dementia who are in hospital at this current time, due to visiting restrictions in place because of COVID-19, which prevent their familiar carers or family from being with them. Creating spaces that are comforting, welcoming and similar to a home environment will support individuals with cognitive impairment by putting them at ease and enabling them to understand and engage with their surroundings more easily.”
Lisa Utting, Fundraising and Voluntary Services Manager, added: “We would like the people of Swindon and Wiltshire to really get behind this appeal, as it is one of great importance for some of our most vulnerable patients.
“There are lots of ways you can get involved, by either simply donating to the appeal or by holding a fundraising or sponsored event – this could be through a marathon, bike ride or virtual event.
“If you are organising an event, please do ensure you follow the government guidance to keep yourselves and others safe.”
For more information about how to support the Dementia Appeal, please visit www.brighterfuturesgwh.nhs.uk/fundraising/elderly-care-projects/dementia-appeal/ or call Brighter Futures on 01793 605631