Can improving environment help those living with Dementia while in hospital?

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When treating those living with Dementia for other conditions, could planning and simple changes to their environment aid recovery?

Hospitals are reactive environments. Offering treatment in reaction to the effects of injury or illness. However, with the right information and planning not every element of treatment has to be.

One such element is the use of environmental factors to aid a patient’s recovery. This can be especially helpful for those with Dementia, as their environment can have an enormous impact on their well-being.

Put simply; unfamiliar surroundings can cause undue discomfort to those living with Dementia. Hospitals aren’t the most familiar of places for any patient. So how do you balance this?

Simple changes or consideration regarding the patient’s surroundings may help.

Routine

  • How much of the patient’s usual routine can you accommodate? By keeping their day-to-day routines as familiar as possible, you are more likely to make them feel more at ease in these unfamiliar surroundings.

Continuity of staff

  • As with routine, familiarity is crucial. So where possible have the same staff help support the patient. It can offer them a level of familiarity on its own.

Home comforts

  • Where possible make things a little more comfortable. Obviously within reason, as it’s still a hospital, but simple things like cushions or other ‘home comforts’ can give the space an entirely different perspective.

Fitting meal times

  • Find out what and when the patient usually eats. It might mean a few changes in routine on the ward but can offer great peace of mind.

Repeated activities and place

  • Find activities they are familiar with to keep them engaged during their time in hospital. These can then be repeated to help build a familiarity with the new surroundings and create familiar associations. Activities can also contribute to distracting from anxieties that could lead to more upsetting behaviours for the patient.

Open space

  • Hospitals are functional buildings, but on the upside, they are usually quite large. So try to identify safe areas patients may use to exercise or take time to themselves.
  • This may require some additional supervision to ensure their safety. However, if you have difficulty freeing up resources from other duties you could consider using Dementia Support Workers or similar.

Noise

  • Frantic, busy or unexpected sounds can cause alarm. So try to keep noise in their surrounding area to a minimum.

Music & Books

  • Access to these simple pastimes can be very calming. In some cases having someone read to them will help. Although again this can put a strain on resources, however with additional support like Ensign Care’s Dementia Support Workers this can be done.

Companions

  • The company of another can also help make a person living with Dementia’s time in hospital more comfortable. However, staff have to attend to other duties and patients. But there are options. Our Dementia Support Workers can remain with them and help support them and keep them company throughout their stay.

Other patients

  • Although not always possible on a ward, consider a private space for these individuals. However, other considerations could be made, like keeping them away from more busy areas or corridors. Avoid places with intrusive lighting or noises. Considerations like these can help find the most suitable place to aid their comfort.

It must be remembered that these actions are not cures or fixes. They are simply ways to offer a level of familiarity and support to patients living with Dementia when they find themselves in unfamiliar surroundings.

By taking such actions, and making the surroundings more suitable it can simply help them remain calm and to engage more with their treatment.


If you are interested in finding out how Ensign Care can support your ward, then call us on 0345 25 76 104 or fill in the form below.

We are an approved supplier on the NHS National Clinical Staffing Framework