An occupational therapist Anne O’ Hea, has worked closely with hospital staff to make simple environmental changes hospital-wide that support the person with dementia (simpler signs; orientation cues, such as clocks; more welcoming areas for walking and sitting).
There have been a number of changes to St Mary’s Geriatric Ward, which include:
- Flooring – The flooring was replaced and is now a uniform colour with a good contrast with walls and doorways to enable patients to navigate easily.
- Orientation – Orientation is a key factor in enabling patients with dementia. Clocks and calendars that are easy to read/visible were introduced. Appropriate signs with good contrasting colours including a picture were also provided to help orientate the person and help them to find their way. We also themed the different rooms.
- Colour & Contrast – we made each patient’s bedside unique using pictures and colour to aid orientation/wayfinding.
Dayroom – We created a dementia friendly space to help patients relax and enable them to engage in familiar activities e.g. watching television or sitting round a fireplace. The staff and visitors also love the new look of this room.
A dementia friendly bay in the Emergency Department (ED) has been introduced, based on the principals of dementia friendly design, with a visible calendar and clock to aid orientation. This is part of an overall plan for best care of a person with dementia who has to spend time in the ED.
Future plans include the incorporation of a dementia friendly room on each ward.
The signage and the communal spaces, including the corridors that link hospital sections, will become more dementia friendly and looking ahead we hope that a dementia friendly design is incorporated into all future planning for new projects within the hospital as seen with the newly developed Transitional Care Unit.