With Dementia Action week approaching on May 21 the Western Trust has highlighted the work it is doing to make Altnagelvin more dementia friendly.

The number of people in Northern Ireland with dementia is steadily increasing. In recent years it has been estimated that approximately 20,000 people are living with dementia here and with this figure set to increase to 60,000 by the year 2051, it is a priority that dementia care is optimised in all settings.

Dr Bob Brown, Director of Primary Care and Older People Western Trust commented:  “Our aim is to help deliver the best possible care and support for people with dementia and their carers whilst in hospital. This is being achieved by ensuring that all staff within the hospital are aware of and understand dementia. About one quarter of our hospital beds are occupied by people with a dementia diagnosis. Our staff play a pivotal role in recognising the needs of dementia patients and tailoring their care to meet such needs”.

Our hospital staff are being trained in how to communicate with a person with dementia and how to respond to behavioural and psychological symptoms. The training programme underway includes dementia awareness workshops, virtual dementia training and best practice in dementia care.

Physical improvements are currently being made in a number of service areas/wards across our hospitals to ensure that the environment reduces confusion and distress for people with dementia. Any new buildings and refurbishments within the hospitals are being designed in keeping with best practice in dementia design.

The Western Trust joined the national Johns Campaign in 2016 which supports the rights of carers to stay with patients with dementia in hospital. To ensure Johns campaign is implemented fully we have included information on the Trust’s new hospital visiting poster and policy. We have just recently produced John’s campaigns posters and flyers which will be displayed in all wards shortly.  We have also purchased recliner chairs for all wards so that carers can sleep in them if they wish to stay overnight with their loved one who has dementia.

A number of volunteers have been and will continue to be recruited and trained to work with people who have dementia and are admitted to our hospitals.

The Western Trust identified the need for a dementia specialist nursing service for its general hospitals. Two new dementia specialist nurses have been recruited, one to cover Omagh Hospital & Primary Care Complex and South West Acute Hospital in Enniskillen and the other for Altnagelvin and Waterside hospitals in Londonderry.

Dr Brown added: “Although progress has been made in recent times, we have much still to do to ensure our general hospitals and indeed our health centres become completely dementia friendly.  The Western Trust remains committed to providing appropriate care for people who have memory problems and a diagnosis of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease as well as meeting the needs of their carers whilst in hospital.”

Pictured are some of the staff at Altnagelvin Hospital, Londonderry who have participated in the Virtual Dementia  Awareness Training.

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