Yesterday I was invited to look round a local cancer hospital ward….in fact the one where my daughter is now a nurse!
Now some of you may be thinking….why on earth am I exposing myself and others to a visit to a hospital ward during this time of Corona Virus…..well at the moment we’re being told by the experts not to cancel events…there’s no need at present. The most important thing is the handwashing routine. I’m following this advice. When someone says we have to stop public events etc, then I’ll have to stop, but at the moment we don’t.
I know many others are anxious about travelling around and think we shouldn’t, but that’s their choice. I personally feel very anxious at the prospect of events being cancelled, of not being able to trundle as I wish. The effect this would have on me and my dementia, being far greater than the Corona Virus, if I had to stay at home with dementia as my only company. So I seem to be going out for more trundles just in case we’re told to stay indoors as that would be my worse nightmare, I hate being cooped up inside.
It must be a very difficult time for those with conditions such as OCD and for those of an anxious nature. If we all started to self isolate now and not move around, then after the 14 day period we’d all come out at once and there would be an huge spike in the virus again as we’ve done it too soon, before the advice has said that’s what we should be doing.
So for now I’m washing my hands probably more than I should just to make sure I havn’t forgotten. I’m due in London on Wednesday and did try and find a hand gel to put in my pocket, but it appears everyone in my town has snapped them all up as the shelves were empty🙄
Crikey……went right off piste then….back to yesterday ……
The aim of the visit was to discuss with their Sister on the ward, their plans to make their environment more dementia appropriate…..my daughter Sarah started working their earlier in the year so she was my way in 😂
I woke to a Mr Blue Sky day out of my window after heavy overnight rain….
We were due there at 11 to meet Sister AnnMarie. Sarah arrived early knowing what a nightmare parking was at Castle Hill Hospital…..and it was….we drove round for ages. What a nightmare it must be for cancer patients, already stressed, to have problems finding somewhere to park….not unique to this hospital by any means!
We eventually parked on lines where everyone else was parking, in the hope we wouldn’t get a ticket and ambled to the ward….
We went down a very dark flight of stairs and even though we’d gone down lots, we turned out to be on ground level 😳….very weird.
Using the hand gel before we entered, we walked into the ward, Sarah letting me go first so I got first impressions. On the left was an empty desk, which wasn’t very welcoming, but then I was with Sarah and she knew where to go. It was then that the temperature changed and friendly smiles appeared and a friendly atmosphere appeared along with a Digni-Tree…
And a lovely Family and Friends tree…
AnnMarie was busy so Sarah showed me round. We went into the area they’re wanting to transform…
A very dull, sad sitting area was waiting for a make over. I started to reel off all the possible changes….”OOoo wait ‘til Anne Marie is here ‘cos I’ll forget what you’ve said” said Sarah 😂🤣😂🤣
It was a lovely space with so much potential as it looked out onto the garden with benches and an empty bird feeder, that simply needed refilling to attract the birds to come…
There was little contrast, little colour or happiness but all this is easy to put right.
Finally a smiley AnnMarie was ready for us and we went into her office.
It was nice that she immediately said :
“I want to improve dementia care from the inside out……” and also”
”I don’t want it just to be ok, I want it to be perfect…”
Dementia on line module isn’t mandatory for all staff in the hospital (which it needs to be), but AnnMarie insists on it being mandatory for all staff on ward 30…👍⭐️
We chatted about the options opened to her. They’d received many donations which they were going to use to improve the environment. It’s not difficult to change an environment to be not only dementia appropriate, but people friendly too. Your in hospital for a sad reason often, so to have a dull cubicle room or a dull seating area wouldn’t lift anyone’s moods.
I spoke of the importance of contrast, and taking black and white piccies to see if colours go together – switches that we need to see can have a border painted round them as I have at home, and simply leave those we don’t need to see.
Putting simple coloured non slip mats onto the tables would make them brighter. I mentioned loads of things but forgot to type so not sure what I said.
One patient allowed us into his room to have a look round. It was very dull, very much the same colour throughout. Once again, it wouldn’t take much to brighten a room. They’re restricted due to infection control stuff and other restrictions, but this doesn’t make it impossible.
Each patient has a board with the day, date and which nurse is looking after them. I suggested a smiley piccie of the nurse to make it more personal. Having something on the wall to look at when you’re in bed, would help the boredom and sadness of looking at a blank wall, so suggested commandeering local artists or children to make colourful pieces for the wall.
They use the butterfly scheme on the ward to identify people with cognitive issues, but some relatives and patients aren’t keen on this being used as an identification marker. I love butterflies, so I’d have no problem. Also people need to understand WHY it’s a good idea and sometimes I imagine there’s not enough time to explain. I did wonder afterwards, if they could have a wipe clean information folder in each room with things like that in along with meal times, etc. It would give relatives and patients alike something to read when they first arrive to make them feel more informed and comfortable…..
As I said, not everyone has a diagnosis, so observation on the part of the staff has to come into play as well.
Sooooo much else I could have said, just not enough time. I’m going back to speak to staff in a couple of months so hopefully I’ll be able to say more then…..
I suppose you have to strike a balance between making a room friendly and comfortable and not too friendly that people are reluctance to go home….😳😂
We ended on a happy note with a piccie by the Family and Friends comments wall……..