Directors and staff at West Suffolk Hospital have given their backing to changes that aim to make it a safe haven for dementia patients

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Two of West Suffolk’s leading lights in tackling the illness – Maggie Woodhouse and Julie Fountain –outlined the transformation in G4 ward at a board meeting, with directors unanimous in their approval.

They said that the hospital’s staff were overwhelmingly positive about the work on the ward, where the use of colours and a new day room –backed by the EADT’s Forget Me Not campaign – were helping patients.

Executive director of resources, Craig Black, said: “For the community we serve, this is exactly what we should be doing.”

Chairman Roger Quince added: “We didn’t do this off our own back because we thought it was a nice idea – we did it because there appears to be evidence from elsewhere that these are the right things to do. The key thing is, is the evidence available out there, not here, compelling, and I thought it was.”

Each of the ward’s five bays have been colour-coded so patients can easily find their way back to the right bay, with a flower at each bay’s entrance also matching the colour scheme.

Discreet exit doors have been added to the ward, with staff feedback suggesting this has helped prevent patients from wandering off.

Inventive use of colour has also been applied to the ward’s toilets, with coloured doors and shower seats making them easier to find.

A staff survey found that 89% felt the changes were positive for patients. All of those questioned said the ward was now more welcoming; 89% said the changes had improved patients’ general wellbeing; 78% felt the redesign had reduced patients’ confusion and their tendency to wander, while two thirds said the changes had helped patients find their way.

Other proposed changes include a memory walk along a corridor that will be made up of pictures of west Suffolk towns such as Bury St Edmunds, Sudbury and Brandon, as well as other nostalgic material.

The Forget Me Not Campaign aims to raise £25,000 to pay for the reminiscence material and furnish the new day room, as well as raising awareness.

For more information call the hospital’s fundraising manager, Dave Gooderham, on 01284 712952 or visit www.justgiving.com/forgetmenotcampaign

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