Charity gives more than half a million pounds to dementia care

Thanks to its supporters, Nottingham Hospitals Charity has been able to give more than half a million pounds to help patients with dementia at Nottingham’s hospitals.

The latest project to be funded by the Charity is a hundred activity boxes which aim to provide a distraction for patients with dementia who may be in distress or at risk of wandering away from their hospital beds.

The first boxes, containing items such as sensory balls, games and dusters, will be delivered to patients at Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust (NUH) this week, as part of Dementia Awareness Week (15 – 21 May).

Sara Deakin, Practice Development Matron for Older People and Dementia at NUH, said: “The boxes have been set up to use specifically for patients with dementia and those with cognitive impairment who are classed as being at high risk of having falls.

“The boxes contain a selection of well-chosen activities to promote empowerment, by choosing which activities to complete, improve communication, interaction and engagement and reduce anxiety and boredom through distraction.

“They will also give the opportunity for sensory stimulation and maintaining life skills through purposeful activity, such as shoe polishing and dusting, and work on cognitive function through word searches and quizzes. All activities encourage socialisation, which in turn will improve patients’ wellbeing and mood.

“The one hundred boxes funded by the Charity will be reused by more than one patient, so ultimately they will benefit hundreds of patients at NUH.”

There are currently around 40,000 people suffering from dementia in Nottingham and Nottinghamshire alone. Symptoms include memory loss and difficulty with thought processes, concentration and language.

Nottingham Hospitals Charity has funded a variety of projects for the benefit of patients with dementia at NUH, including:

  • £400,000 for specialist Advanced Nurse Practitioners to support older patients, including many with dementia
  • £70,000 for a PhD research fellow to conduct a study into dementia care, looking at how volunteers work with patients with dementia and how this might be built on to improve their care and wellbeing
  • £43,000 for the Playlist for Life project, which includes grants for iPods and music to help conjure memories for patients with dementia, improving their mood, awareness, sense of identity and independence, whilst at the same time reducing anxiety and distress. This project was highlighted as an example of outstanding practice by Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspectors earlier this year
  • £9,000 for an artist-led intervention workshop for patients with dementia, where they focussed on memories of the seaside as part of an art project, which led to further seaside-themed diversional activities in the day room on dementia ward B47. The grant included the development of a training video for staff caring for patients with dementia. This project was also deemed outstanding by CQC inspectors earlier this year
  • £7,000 for the new activity boxes to provide diversional activities for patients and help to stop the risk of falls due to patients wandering from their beds
  • £7,000 for music therapy, which includes musicians attending dementia ward B47 to play to patients, helping to relieve anxiety and provide a calming atmosphere. Instruments are also provided for patients to use themselves, to help distract and engage them
  • £6,000 for the development of the IDEA website – a free website which provides information and resources for those caring for people with dementia, including healthcare professionals and family carers

Thanks to an anonymous donation, Nottingham Hospitals Charity has been able to give £400,000 over the past three years to fund specialist nursing staff to care for older patients, including those with dementia.

The Advanced Nurse Practitioners (ANPs) work closely with elderly patients and take a holistic approach to optimise their care and treatment.

Beth Carling, one of the ANPs recruited as part of the project, explains: “I believe very strongly that Health Care of Older People (HCOP) is a speciality in its own right – because these patients are elderly and often have complex conditions and needs, it doesn’t work to just treat the one illness the person has come in with, other factors need addressing too. That’s what my role as a HCOP ANP allows me to do.

“Patients and families appear to feel that the ANPs spend more time with them and are more likely to look at them as a whole person and not just look at the illness itself. Most elderly patients have complex needs and I can spend about an hour with each patient, which it would be unusual for a doctor to be able to do.

“The feedback I receive is often to thank me for taking the time to talk, to explain things, to ask what the patient would like to happen during their stay with regards to treatment and discharge planning. I also appreciate being able to spend longer with each patient – I get to know them and how they manage their life, which means I can suggest the best course of treatment to get them well, and hopefully keep them well.”

Barbara Cathcart, Chief Executive of Nottingham Hospitals Charity, said: “With an ageing population, we know that dementia is on the rise and we feel it is very important to support projects like the ANPs, Playlist for Life and the activity boxes to help patients with dementia during their time in hospital.

“Without the support of our donors and fundraisers, these projects would simply not be possible and this vulnerable group of patients would miss out on the extra care that makes a real difference to their emotional, mental and physical wellbeing.”

For more information about Nottingham Hospitals Charity, to make a donation or to get involved in fundraising, please visit www.nottinghamhospitalscharity.org.uk or call us on 0115 962 7905.