Hospital experience for patients with dementia: boredom and isolation
Many of the older patients within Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust are suffering from moderate to severe dementia, alongside long-term physical health conditions.
According to Alzheimer’s Society, dementia is now one of the leading causes of death in the UK. There are currently 850,000 UK adults with dementia, and this number will increase to over one million by 2025. More than 70 per cent of people in care homes have dementia or severe memory problems and whilst medical treatment is the priority, wider care and wellbeing are also significant in terms of patient recovery. It is therefore essential that the holistic patient experience is positive both in care homes and hospitals.
However, the Trust has recognised that patient experience within the community is suffering, with patients’ wellbeing and quality of life deteriorating as a result. The two key factors at the centre of this issue are boredom and isolation.
Patients with dementia are more vulnerable to feeling disconnected and isolated from others, with reduced levels of social engagement and meaningful interaction. Many struggle to fill the time when in hospital, which has a short and long term impact on their mood, mental health, memory and physical recovery.
Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust and Royal Voluntary Service have partnered with the aim of making a difference to patients’ experience within the community’s hospital. The Trust recognises that improving the lives of its patients is a priority, and has committed to enhancing patient experience with the help of the Royal Voluntary Service on-ward service.
The Trust chose Royal Voluntary Service in the partnership as it is an existing established partner within the hospital sites, and has already successfully integrated its partnership across the wards.
The On Ward service provides volunteers from Royal Voluntary Service who provide engagement and social interaction to patients on the wards. Volunteers engage with the patients in chosen meaningful and engaging activities. As companionship and social interaction are integral to positive mental health and mood, the service aims to provide company and reassurance to the patients through the volunteers.
- Arts and crafts
- Chair-based exercises to music
- Reminiscence therapy, such as scented oils
- Conversation and humour
- Group art classes
As many of the patients within the hospital suffer from emotional volatility and behavioural issues, as commonly associated with dementia, the volunteer-led activities have been developed to create calming environments. These help to promote an environment for a positive and healthy frame of mind.
Conversation and activities included within the On Ward service help to significantly reduce the boredom and isolation experienced by patients within the hospital, improving their experience, their mood and speed of physical recovery.