A support service which is improving the hospital experience of people with dementia and their carers
From the October/November 2016 issue of our magazine, a hospital stay can present unique challenges for a person with dementia
. Gareth Bracken reports on a service in Leicester providing support before, during and after.
Having to go into hospital is tough enough for anyone, but when someone has dementia it can be even more challenging for them and their carers.
An Alzheimer's Society report, released earlier this year as part of our Fix Dementia Care campaign, found that only 2 per cent of people surveyed felt that all hospital staff understood the specific needs of people with dementia. According to Fix Dementia Care: Hospitals, patients who have dementia stay more than twice as long on average as people aged over 65 who don't have the condition.
Amandeep Gill, one of the dementia support workers, says,
'Hospital can be daunting and fast-paced, and people don't have time to get their head around it.
'We help carers understand their options better and feel more confident. We tailor the support based on the needs they identify with us.'
'People come to the hospital because they are sick but they may not be here because of their dementia.
'If someone comes in with a urinary tract infection, even though they get better we think, "Why did they get the infection?" We explore that in more detail to try and reduce the chance of them being readmitted for the same problem in future.'
Due to its success with Leicester Royal Infirmary, the team now also provides support for people attending nearby Glenfield Hospital.
Sue Lockwood's mother, Joyce, has dementia and went into hospital earlier this year after having a fall at the seaside.
Sue says the help that she received from the dementia support workers was 'brilliant'.
'They chatted to me about how things worked, the process, access to support and information about diagnosis. They support you and let you know it's alright.'
Thomas broke his elbow while out walking and was admitted to hospital in late 2015. He became disorientated and distraught on the ward, even experiencing suicidal thoughts. Carole says,
'Amandeep not only offered emotional support but was also extremely informative and efficient.'
Amandeep's support came at a time when Carole was struggling to get the right care for Thomas. Carole says,
'She helped me with what questions to ask, and if she couldn't answer my questions she knew who could. She also helped to get different teams to communicate with each other.'
'That was helpful because you can feel biased, but when someone says you've got a valid point they confirm that you are still responsible in your views, even though you're so close to things.'