West Suffolk: Launch of hospital’s Forget-Me-Not dementia fundraising campaign

Official launch of the Forget-Me-Not Dementia Campaign at West Suffolk Hospital. Left to right, Magg

Official launch of the Forget-Me-Not Dementia Campaign at West Suffolk Hospital. Left to right, Maggie Woodhouse and Julie Fountain. - Credit: Archant

An estimated 3,400 people in West Suffolk are living with dementia.

Official launch of the Forget-Me-Not Dementia Campaign at West Suffolk Hospital. Left to right, Dave

Official launch of the Forget-Me-Not Dementia Campaign at West Suffolk Hospital. Left to right, Dave Gooderham, Russell Cook, Julie Fountain, Maggie Woodhouse, Helen Ballam, Sandra Austin and Liz Nice. - Credit: Archant

But around 59% of those have not been diagnosed with the condition and are therefore missing out on specialist care and treatment, according to the charity Alzheimer’s Research UK.

Nationally 820,000 people have dementia, a number that is predicted to rise as the population ages.

In Suffolk where there is a high proportion of older people, the need for early diagnosis, expert care and a treatment is particularly relevant.

West Suffolk Hospital, which regularly sees patients with dementia in its acute wards, is already improving training for staff and making inroads into providing a comfortable and safe environment for people with the condition.

Now in a joint campaign with the East Anglian Daily Times and our sister Mercury titles which launches today, the hospital is aiming to raise £25,000 to further enhance its support for patients with dementia.

Awareness of dementia is growing nationally with high profile people such the actor Tim West admitting this week that his Fawlty Towers star wife Prunella Scales has a mild form of Alzheimer’s.

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Julie Fountain, West Suffolk Hospital’s lead nurse for dementia and frail elderly, hopes the Forget-Me-Not campaign will also raise awareness in the local community.

She said: “In west Suffolk, we have an older population than in some areas and we are going to see dementia increase in prevalence.

“On our acute wards, up to one in four beads can be occupied with people with dementia and hospital can be a frightening place for them.

“We have already completed a project looking at incorporating dementia friendly design into our wards, such as improving signage with words and pictures and using contrasting colours on the walls.

“Part of the campaign will be to raise money to create a memory walk along two of the corridors that link three core wards, following a theme of west Suffolk through the ages.

“We hope to make the corridor bright and interesting with things that anyone with dementia in an acute ward could stop and look at and have a conversation about.”

West Suffolk Hospital has already started a training programme to educate all staff about how best to deal with patients with dementia.

Thirty dementia champions will have additional training and the hospital is encouraging family carers to get more involved.

Ms Fountain continued: “We hope the campaign will get people talking about dementia and we want to get the message across that it’s not all doom and gloom. It’s possible to live well with dementia if we can get people the right diagnosis and support.”

EADT editor Terry Hunt said: “Dementia is such an important issue for Suffolk and we are delighted to be supporting the dementia campaign and working with the West Suffolk Hospital charity.

“Dementia touches so many of our lives and we hope working together in this way will help to significantly improve the patient experience while supporting the fantastic work of West Suffolk Hospital staff in this area.”

West Suffolk’s fundraising manager Dave Gooderham, added: “Even before the official launch, we have been contacted by a number of individuals and businesses looking to support the campaign, through donations or organising their own fundraising events.

“Every penny raised will make a massive difference to patients living with dementia and their families.”

To support the Forget-Me-Not campaign, you can donate online at www.justgiving.com/forgetmenotcampaign or in person at any of the EADT offices.

Alternatively, readers who would like to organise their own fundraising events for the appeal can contact Dave Gooderham on 01284 712952 or dave.gooderham@wsh.nhs.uk