Royal Derby Hospital team is one step ahead on elderly care after trying time for NHS with Stafford Hospital report
THE efforts of a ward at the Royal Derby Hospital to make elderly patients "feel at home" are to be introduced across the rest of the building.
Old-fashioned wallpaper, a classic television set, knitting needles and dominoes are among items found in the day room – or "reminiscence room" – on ward 406 at the hospital.
Staff said it was part of attempts to make older patients – or those who arrive at the hospital confused or disorientated – feel more comfortable in what they hope are familiar surroundings.
Other measures on the ward, which looks after the elderly, include bringing in young volunteers to play games or converse with the patients and creating personal meal and activity plans.
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And Derby hospitals' acting chief nurse, Cathy Winfield, said – because the feedback on these efforts had been so positive – they had decided to introduce some of the ideas across the rest of the hospital.
The news comes after an inquiry into failings at Stafford Hospital, led by Robert Francis QC, made national headlines last week.
His report – which looked at wider-ranging reforms of the NHS – uncovered a "disaster" in the standards of basic care and medical treatment for some of the most vulnerable and elderly patients.
Ms Winfield said: "We had already decided to start putting these plans in place this year but these are very much matters the Francis Report was looking at.
"It talked about the care of elderly people in general and we think it's really important to make sure people are cared for in the right environment.
"We know our patients are getting older and living longer and we want to make sure their needs are met.
"Obviously, not necessarily everything in ward 406 can be reproduced in every ward but the principles of what they have achieved to make patients feel more comfortable and less intimidated can be."
As part of these plans – which will be rolled out over the next 12 months – Ms Winfield said the city's hospitals trust was looking to recruit more volunteers.
One idea is to approach Derby schools and sixth-form centres to see if their pupils would like to be involved.
She said the hospital had also received an extra £26,000 to spend on training healthcare assistants in elderly care, while day rooms similar to the one in ward 406 would be replicated in some other wards.
And Ms Winfield said a new position had been created – called lead nurse for confusion – because some elderly patients admitted to hospital were showing signs of confusion but did not have dementia.
She said: "Coming to hospital can be a distressing time and, if they come with something like an infection, it can add to the confusion and delirium.
"That's why we want to give them a sense of normality."
Ward 406 senior sister Pat Fox said: "When patients come to our ward, they say they feel in a safe place and, importantly, their relatives feel reassured by what we're trying to do as well."