Pioneering treatment is now on offer in Southampton, with a re-design of the ward’s environment specifically intended to ensure reduced confusion and fear in future patients. Designed with their comfort in mind, it offers beds identified by symbols rather than numbers, lowered-height nursing stations, and paperwork locked away to avoid clutter. To aid patients in moving freely around the hospital, it features plain, matt flooring that appears safer and more welcoming, and doors are now brightly coloured. Restricted access doors are coloured so as to blend in with the surrounding walls and not confuse the patients.
Visiting time restrictions have also been lifted, so carers are free to visit any time of the day or night. The ward will even feature the UK’s first hospital-based specialist nurse – as opposed to one attached to a community team.
Matron Jill Young will lead the project on behalf of University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust. She explained: “dementia patients can be extremely confused in a hospital environment, particularly when they require medical treatment, and relatives are often concerned their dementia needs are neglected in the absence of carers or family.
“This new ward gives us a chance to show we are determined not just to improve care for patients, but to give families and friends the confidence we understand the condition and can offer the right support.”
Charity Dementia UK has called the ward re-vamp a “breakthrough moment;” leading the way for the rest of the UK. With Dementia affecting 820,000 people in the UK alone, these changes are crucial in revolutionising care.