Emma kindly agrees to pick me up at the station as I still havn’t got my head around the buses in Beverley. In York they have a great map with coloured lines that show where all the buses go, but I’ve not been able to find anything similar here. Everywhere should have a bus map like York.
Anyway back to today. Just before Christmas I attended a meeting at Beverley community hospital as they have started a project to make this wonderful new building dementia friendly and therefore people friendly. Why oh why do designers not take this into account when designing new buildings …………?
We arrived early but soon met up with Janet Woodhouse in the café – she’s heading up the project.Everyone was on time, including an Architect who’s worked with Sterling University (renowned for design), the charge nurse and other members of staff working on the project. The Trust has signed up to the national dementia friendly charter – the key objective is to review the physical environment of the ward.As a bench mark we were using the Kings fund audit tool. We decided it would be best to work in pairs so that we weren’t influenced by each other and, due to our back grounds we’d ‘see’ different issues.
Sure enough, that was exactly right. I went round with Emma. We started off at the front of the hospital and made our made round.
The front of the hospital was very welcoming with a happy flower by the main entrance sign
However, the glass on the main doors was coloured, making it look closed……
Inside, we were met by the hospitals main issue – the signage………..There were many thing wrong with the signage. Reception signs are silver which just blends away into the background – it should be bold and possibly royal blue so it shows up clearly
Other signs were white background with blue writing which would have been better with blue background and white writing. If you compare the ‘wash room’ sign – it’s much more visible.
The corridors were very bland and uninformative – you couldn’t see where you were going as all the doors were the same, the colours were the same – simply lots of ‘sameness’.
Some of the signs were also very confusing
Others had the chuckle factor
We almost missed the day room and dining room as they were very uninviting. In fact the day room didn’t look as though it was used much and it was clear to see why
One patient kindly agreed to talk to us in her room. The ward was made up of many side rooms accommodating 1-4 patients. Again, there was little colour in the room – I felt sad there. It felt very empty and lonely.However, the patient had nothing but praise for the staff and was very grateful for the care they’d given her.
The one most annoying thing she would get rid of was the sound of the call system. If one patient pressed their help buzzer, everyone could hear it. It felt like buzzers were going off continually while we were there. The patient said they were constant.
We didn’t get round the whole ward before we were called back together again. We hadn’t realised it was so big and we hadn’t bargained for the amount that needs highlighting.
When we all compared notes, we all noticed the major issues of blandness and signage but we’d also seen different issues as well. The clinicians had noticed things we wouldn’t have thought of and vice verse.
We’d started this meeting at 10 and I’d expected to be finished by 12 as I was meeting 2 researchers in the afternoon. So the fact that I had to leave by 12.45 meant we would send Janet a resume of our findings and put them altogether at the next meeting.
The good news, I felt, was that the majority of changes would have very little cost associated. Most things were quick fixes. There was huge potential for the outside space and there might even be an option to use volunteers to spruce up these areas.
The Alzheimers society has a new partnership with the Scouts association and this could be the ideal project for collaborating in the community.
I think different coloured footprints on the floor could be used for navigating to different areas; local art groups or schools could be used to display art to brighten up the corridors; patients could bring personal belongings to help with familiarity and security; definitely better signage. They display the name of the nurse looking after each patient on room doors but not the name of the patient, making it very difficult for family and friends to find their loved ones – something easily fixed.
So lots of great potential for minimal costs – I’m very hopeful. The next meeting will be to discuss priorities and next steps.
Emma then took me into town as I’d arranged to meet Sue Richardson and Jannine Williams. They are researchers connected to Bradford University who asked to meet me to ask me questions about a project they were starting around being in employment and having dementia. They’re starting a small pilot study which aims to support organisations and the people in them when an employee receives a diagnosis of dementia or mild cognitive impairment. They want to find out how things need to change to enable people with dementia to continue working for as long as they want to and are able to. We’d agreed to meet in Nero’s so Sue sent me a photo of them both so I’d know who to look for.
I hadn’t realised they were travelling so far to see me. Sue had come on the train from Newcastle and Jannine from Leeds – very flattered
I was going to write a blog all about the meeting but bizarrely I don’t think I typed any notes so can’t remember what we talked about.
However, what I do remember is how nice they were and I’m very glad to be working with them……..