A new collaboration between the Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust and Alzheimer’s Society (AS) is proving to be a resounding success in supporting elderly patients and their carers, and the staff who look after them.
The idea of working together first formed when Sharon Herring, Director of Nursing for Networked Care met AS local representative volunteer Martin McDonald. Following his attendance at a Royal Berkshire Hospital Patient Partnership Conference last May, Martin was interested in visiting the elderly care wards and Sharon was delighted to show him around.
Sharon said: “It was while Martin and I were visiting the wards and chatting about the work of AS that the idea of collaborative working took shape.
“I felt that by working more closely with the society we could improve the support on offer to our patients with dementia and their carers, and our staff would greatly benefit from the expertise. Following Martin’s visit I was invited to the Berkshire AS to talk through how the venture might work.”
Linda Barnes, Alzheimer’s Society, Operations Manager, for Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire also met with Sharon during a visit to our elderly care wards. This was a great opportunity for Sharon to share the great work that has already taken place on our dementia friendly wards, and talk further on the plans ahead.
Sharon continued: “A number of initiatives are underway, including the introduction of twiddlemuffs. A twiddlemuff is a basic hand muff that patients can twiddle with. These are proving to be a great form of therapy for our patients with dementia. A monthly AS carers’ information drop-in session has also been organised at the hospital, led by one of the society’s dementia support workers, which is a fantastic resource.
“Carers of people with dementia often feel isolated and anxious. From April we will be adding an additional question to our ‘Supporting Dementia Carers Survey’. This will give carers the opportunity to receive a phone call from AS, and we are confident this will help to alleviate their worries.
“We are already seeing the benefit of the collaboration, and I’m looking forward to the society’s Empowerment Group visiting us in April. Their feedback will provide us with valuable insight into things we can consider, ensuring we continue to improve the care and support we provide to our patients.”