More than 7,000 people in Northamptonshire have dementia, according to new figures published by health authorities in the county.
To help treat those with the condition more effectively, Northampton General Hospital and Northamptonshire Health Charitable Fund have announced a new fund-raising campaign to support patients.
The hospital is using Dementia Awareness Week, which ends today, to officially announce Do It For Dementia as its primary fundraising campaign.
With an initial target of £50,000, Do it for Dementia will raise money help create dementia-friendly spaces and to buy equipment and resources that will help to reduce confusion, anxiety and distress for patients who have dementia.
Alison McCulloch, charity co-ordinator, said: “There are lots of great ideas about how to improve the hospital environment for the benefit of patients who have dementia. This includes the creation of a tailor-made memory wall mural depicting an image of Abington Park that’s currently under design by RemPod, a company specialising in pop-up reminiscence pods and dementia-friendly room decoration.
“Other projects include the refurbishment of a kitchen and therapy area as well as plans for a redesign for dedicated garden area so patients with dementia can spend time outside in the fresh air because they are often staying in the hospital for quite some time.
“As well as those big ticket items, there are lots of resources that we’d like to see on wards across the hospital like special clocks, memory boxes to encouraging soothing reminiscences and calming activities and games.”
The Department of Health estimates that only 59 per cent of people with dementia have a formal diagnosis.
A&E consultant Dr Sarah Vince explained how the emergency department has adapted to become more dementia-friendly.
“For patients with memory problems such as those with dementia, the emergency department (ED) can feel like a chaotic and frightening environment. Here at NGH we have made adaptations to our care environment and developed specialised training for our staff,” she said.
“We have refurbished four bays in the quietest part of the ED for this group. They are decorated with colours shown to calm agitated patients, have a clock to help orientate the confused and furnishings to make them more homely.
“We have increased staffing ratios to ensure a higher nursing presence for this new area to reflect the additional time involved in caring for those with dementia . A Distraction Box has been compiled with activities to keep patients calm, promote reminiscence and help communicate with those with hearing impairment.
“We now have pathways to identify those who have memory problems when they arrive in the ED’s assessment area so that we can adjust our care accordingly. For example we use a specialised tool to look for signs and symptoms of pain, because someone with dementia may find it difficult to tell us they are suffering.”
To donate to the campaign, text the amount you want to donate to 70700 including DIFD22 in your text. Or you can visit the campaign’s Just Giving page.
For more information about Dementia Awareness Week, visit the Alzheimer’s Society website.