Staff on a ward at East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust have worked together to make significant improvements in the care of patients with dementia.
The LiA team on MacDonald Ward at Conquest Hospital had a mission: to reduce the amount of wandering and create a safe zone for patients.
A bus stop has been created on the ward - a replica of bus stops that are found across the local area. It has a bench and a brightly painted mural. However, it is not on any route and no bus will ever arrive.
Patients often say that they want to go home and nothing can distract them. Now, when they say they are looking for their husband, wife or parents, they can go and wait on a bench at the bus stop. It can ease their frustration, knowing that there is somewhere they can go. After a few minutes, they have often forgotten why they are there and focus on going somewhere else.
It is a simple but powerful solution, the patient experience has been improved and the mission has been accomplished: incidents of wandering on the ward have been reduced by 60%.
Because this is a place where patients are willing to sit for longer, relatives have found that they are able spend more focused time with their loved ones. It has also become a place for medical staff to interact with patients and re-assess care.
Monica Golding, Ward Matron on MacDonald Ward said:
“Patients living with dementia can become disorientated at times due to the deterioration of their short-term memory, but because their long-term memory is still active they are aware that the bus stop sign is a means to get them where they need to go. The idea is that during periods of confusion they are able to wait at the bus stop in the safety of our own ward”.
In the longer term the LiA work on the ward continues. Their aim is to become a 'Ward of Excellence' and they are planning to introduce other measures to improve the patients’ pathway.