Over 40 people came together for the first ever joint conference hosted by the Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust and the Alzheimer’s Society, held at the Royal Berkshire Hospital.
The conference title, “Fix Dementia Care”, is a rallying call for all of those who work with or care for people diagnosed with dementia.
Doctors, Consultants and Nurses were joined by Social Workers and representatives from the Fire Service and others involved in patient care, to learn more about, and share experiences of this disease.
Research shows that 850,000 people in the UK have a form of dementia. In less than ten years a million people will be living with dementia. This will soar to two million people by 2051.
Anna Bailey-Bearfield from the Alzheimer’s Society addressed the conference and spoke about their new Fix Dementia Care report. Dr Hannah Johnson, consultant physician at the Trust, talked about creating dementia-friendly environments, and Dr Joanne Brooke, from Oxford Brookes discussed the importance of dementia-friendly wards and the staff impact.
Sharon Herring, RBFT’s Director of Nursing for Networked Care, which overseas care of the elderly, also talked about the Activities Care Crew at the hospital – a team of people who support patients and families from admission to discharge. The team works closely with patients, families and volunteer groups to make sure that those with Dementia are discharged safely to environments which they are familiar with and with people who can support them.
The hospital has a proactive approach to helping people with the condition. All staff joining the Trust are taught to be dementia-friendly, as part of their induction. The hospital has invested in dementia friendly wards, because the environment is as important as the treatment. It hosts the Alzheimer’s Society Empowerment Group in the hospital twice a year. The Trust has also introduced purple wrist bands for in-patients who have dementia – so that any staff can recognise that the person in front of them may be confused.
It also works closely with local support groups and with the Alzheimer’s Society to improve patient and carer experiences. Close links with Berkshire Women’s Institute has also helped the two organisations to reach into the community. The nationwide John Campaign, which campaigned for open visiting hours so that those with dementia could be visited at any time, were introduced by the hospital and welcomed by families.
The Trust’s Chief Executive, Steve McManus, opened the conference and spoke of his own personal experiences of dementia. He talked about how his nan was the carer for this grandfather, who had dementia and the awareness of how isolated families can become. “You never know what goes on beyond closed doors”, he said. “That is why, as health professionals, we need to wrap ourselves around Carers as well as our patients.”