Dementia ward re-opens with the wow factor

23 February 2016

We’ve re-opened our dementia care ward this week after an extensive refurbishment which now means it offers the latest in dementia care for those in the boroughs of Bexley, Bromley and Greenwich.

Holbrook, a specialist intensive care unit for those with advanced dementia at Queen Mary’s Hospital, Sidcup, is now more than just a ward.

It also has a lounge, dining area, kitchen, indoor potting shed, ladies’ hair salon, launderette and activity room, all decorated with feature retro wallpaper with a 1950s reminiscence theme.

A re-opening event was held for people to come and see around the new ward on Monday 22 February. Guests included Old Bexley and Sidcup MP James Brokenshire and patients’ relatives and carers.

Specialists worked with the Oxleas team to ensure a stimulating and homely environment was created for patients’ carers and staff.

The kitchen is fully-functioning and can be used by visitors to make a cup of tea or eat a meal with their loved one – helping encourage patients to use these skills and not lose them.

The lounge and dining area are made to look like a real home, with pictures on the walls, ornaments and accessories to make the areas look inviting and familiar.

Moving back in

Patients were moved out of the ward last June and will move back in this week.

Modern Matron Angela Williams, said: “We provide person-centred care, an approach developed by professor Thomas Kitwood, who has pioneered dementia care since the 1990s.

“This means that we provide care which values the person’s sense of identity and their occupation that meets their need for attachment and comfort and is inclusive. This type of care has been shown to support people with dementia to communicate and engage in day-to-day activities. To support this we have a retro-styled lounge, dining area and kitchen, in addition to our themed potting shed and salon and we believe we have provided an environment to get the best outcomes for our patients.”

Service Manager Rachel Matheson, said: “For many of our patients, they come straight from their home into hospital which is a very difficult time for them. By coming into an environment that looks and feels more like home than a hospital, we hope they will feel more at ease and the transition can be made easier.

“One of the main improvements of the new environment relates to increased lighting levels because research indicates that as we get older we need higher levels of light. This enables us not only to see as clearly as possible so that we can mobilise safely but also promotes healthy patterns of waking and sleeping which can often be disturbed for those with dementia.

“The themed rooms and areas provide meaningful activities, reminiscence opportunities, and landmark objects such as the fireplace and launderette which can help our patients remember where they are on the ward. The patients will benefit hugely from this change but also, their visitors will too. They can come in, knowing they can initiate activities, whether it be making a cup of tea in the kitchen, painting or crafting in the activity room, or sitting to watch television in our lounge.”

Lovely finishing touches

Carers who came to see the transformation ahead of their loved ones moving back into the ward, said it would make a big difference to both visitors and patients.

Debbie Simmons, whose partner Reg will be cared for on the ward, said: “I feel so privileged to be a part of this – it’s amazing, with such lovely finishing touches.

“The care is amazing and now there is this wonderful new ward.”

Angela Sothcott’s husband Barry will also be one of the first patients on the ward and said: “I’ve met some other women on the ward who are in the same position as me and to be able to meet them here, in this lovely kitchen or lounge is really nice. We have created a bit of a support network for each other and share the same feelings, so this is a nice place to meet.”

Jane Walldeck will be visiting her husband Graham and said: “It’s fantastic that there is outside space here. Sometimes, he doesn’t get the chance to go out but he can here. It’s a lovely place and knowing he is here, means I don’t worry. A weight is lifted knowing he is safe and getting the care he needs.”

Dementia friendly design

The development of the environment has been based on research and guidance from Bradford and Stirling Universities and The Kings Fund; all leaders in dementia-friendly design in the UK.

Addressing the guests at the opening event this week, James Brokenshire said: “This is a centre of excellence, supporting patients and their families through dementia.

“All of us know someone with or who has had dementia and this ward ensures dementia is not feared.

“It’s a wonderful facility at Queen Mary’s Hospital, which will provide reassurance and reminiscence to the patients. It will transform care for south east London and the local area. This is a big part in the future of this hospital and I’m pleased to be here celebrating this latest success, which will make such a big difference to those who come here in the weeks and years ahead.

“Thank-you for getting this ward to where it is today.”

More pictures

See more pictures of the Holbrook opening on the Oxleas Facebook page.