Care Minister and dementia leads comment on dementia-friendly charter

Monday 20 August 2018

Dementia Outreach volunteer (right) at Royal Wolverhampton Hospital with a family carer

Hospital staff reflect on journey to becoming dementia-friendly aided by charter as the Minister for Care backs the initiative

The Dementia-Friendly Hospitals Charter provides guidance on best practice for staff and shows what people with dementia, their carers and families should expect. It was launched by the National Dementia Action Alliance (NDAA) in 2015 and to date 132 acute hospitals in England have signed up. The charter incorporates the principles of NHS England’s Well Pathway and focusses on areas that include staffing, partnership, assessments, care, environment and governance. For 2018, following recommendations from the Department of Health and Social Care the NDAA have included a new element focussed on volunteering in hospitals and the new Dementia-Friendly Hospitals Charter will be relaunched at an event on 3 September in London. In anticipation of that, the NDAA have been speaking to Dementia Leads about how the charter has been utilised in their hospitals and the impact it has had.

Innovations in Care

Hospitals that are signed up to the charter have been able to introduce creative improvements to the care that people with dementia experience. Jane Gilby is an Admiral Nurse at Basildon Hospital who described how “improved signage and lighting” was implemented and that older people’s wards now have quiet rooms decorated as “living or kitchen areas, tea rooms and a public house”. At Kingston Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, the environment has been altered to become dementia-friendly, having “toilet doors all the same colour” whilst the charter is involved in all “capital projects and signage strategy” reveals Olivia Frimpong, who is Service Improvement Lead for Dementia and Delirium. The charter is being relaunched to include an element on volunteering in hospitals, which has already been incorporated by some dementia teams. Julie Willoughby is a Consultant Nurse for Dementia Services and described how volunteers had contributed at Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust in a range of ways including “mealtime help, therapeutic intervention and carer support”.

Consistently excellent dementia care across NHS hospitals

When asked why other hospitals should sign up to the charter, Olivia Frimpong at Kingston Hospital suggests that it provides a “good overview to what makes a hospital dementia friendly and guides staff on areas for improvement” with the ultimate goal of “consistently excellent dementia care across NHS hospitals”. Jane Gilby at Basildon Hospital suggests “it focuses on what is important for patients, carers and Trust Staff in order to deliver high standards of care” and Julie Willoughby from Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust describes the “national consistency of standards” that the charter can provide. Julie also described how Royal Wolverhampton were able to “network and benchmark with other organisations, including their ‘matched’ hospital in Bath, to help further improve standards” as part of the campaign. The charter has also now been endorsed by Minister for Care, Caroline Dinenage, who said “Being in hospital can be a frightening and disorientating experience for a person living with dementia. It’s vital NHS staff have the knowledge and awareness of the condition to ensure people with dementia consistently receive high quality care. The Dementia-Friendly Hospitals Charter is an important initiative to improve the care patients with dementia receive and ensure carers and families are involved every step of the way. I want every single hospital to commit to becoming dementia-friendly.” New hospitals can sign up to the charter on the Dementia-Friendly Hospitals page.

Knowledge sharing

An event to mark the relaunch of the Dementia-Friendly Hospitals Charter will take place on Monday 3 September 2018 at University College London Hospital. The day will feature presentations from medical professionals, people living with dementia and carers and will be an opportunity for hospital staff to gain different perspectives on how the charter can be utilised, whilst sharing knowledge with their peers. The event is intended for Dementia Leads, Chief Nurses, CEOs of Hospital Trusts and Hospital Dementia Team Members and is free to attend; the updated charter will be available to download on the NDAA website or visit the relaunch event page. To read the full interviews with Jane Gilby, Olivia Frimpong and Julie Willoughby go to the NDAA news section.