On Scotter Ward we are passionate about ensuring that our patients living with dementia receive the best possible care whilst they stay with us.

My name is Donna and I am the Clinical Team Lead/Ward Sister and a Johns Campaign Ambassador and would like to share a blog that I recently wrote for the Johns campaign website.

I am a Dementia Friends Champion, as are virtually all ward staff (clinical and non-clinical).

Many staff have also undertaken the six-month Stirling course “Best Practice in Dementia Care”.

All staff are currently undertaking the tier one and two Dementia Core Skills Education and Training workbook too.

We have signed up to John’s Campaign to enable the carers of our patients living with dementia to be able to have open visiting.

We are working on making the ward environment more dementia friendly and considering this when any new works are done. We have large display clocks, orientation boards, and reminiscence activities available to use on the ward.

The local Mothers Union make us fidget blankets and a local lady is always busy knitting us fiddle muffs.

But by far one of the most effective tools we have to use on the ward is the “All About Me” booklets.

The booklet was developed in partnership with patients, carers, health and social care, and voluntary sector agencies across Lincolnshire and produced by United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust.

Using this booklet certainly improves and enhances the stay on the ward for our patients living with dementia. The booklet is in sections and we encourage the relatives to fill it in or we help them to do it. It has sections that tell us what foods they like, sleeping habits, likes/dislikes, what makes them happy (- or sad). It gives us a history of their life too and what they used to do for a living when they worked. This latter information was a poignant factor in diffusing an upsetting situation that I encountered a few years ago:

A gentleman who was living with dementia was becoming extremely agitated just prior to attending a hospital appointment. His wife was waiting with him and he had just used the commode but would not stand up in order for the staff to assist him to pull up his trousers and was he said most certainly not going to transfer to the wheelchair ready for the ambulance crew who were waiting for him behind the curtains.

I was asked if I would assist as two staff and his wife could not persuade him to co-operate and his wife was becoming very anxious and tearful. I spoke to the patient and asked him why he wouldn’t move to the wheelchair; he was not very complimentary to the staff and I replied that they were only doing their job and that they could not leave him sat on a commode.

I asked him what he used to do for a job when he worked. He obstinately replied that he never worked.

The previous day I had been familiarising myself with his All About Me booklet, and so I said that I had been reading his book and that it said he had been an engineer on the Vulcan bombers.

His whole demeanour changed and with a twinkle in his eyes and a sigh he replied “that wasn’t a job it was a privilege”.

My heart melted at his wistful look – something I will never forget! He went on to tell me all about the Vulcan bombers and what he did and then his other roles and the jobs he did following this. He was so busy proudly telling me all about this that he didn’t realise he was cleaned, fully dressed and now sat in his wheelchair ready for his journey to his appointment with a very relaxed happy wife besides him.

The knowledge that I had gained from the All About Me booklet had diffused a difficult situation and had shown us all the person behind the dementia.

Every establishment that cares for people living with dementia should, I believe, have their own form of this booklet to enable them to ensure that they are delivering true patient-centred care.

About the Author:

Scotter Ward is a nurse led ward in a busy community hospital in Gainsborough which is part of Lincolnshire Community Health Services. We have just over 40 clinical and non clinical staff and have 23 beds 21 intermediate care and 2 palliative care. We are a team passionate about what we do and always strive to improve standards for our patients and staff

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