Case study – Dementia friendly environment
‘Oh my goodness, it’s amazing!’ were the words of the first two patients to be admitted to the refurbished Redlynch Ward early in 2014. Other recurring words used by patients to describe the new environment, which was the first at Salisbury District Hospital to integrate dementia friendly features, were just as positive – ‘spacious’, ‘cheerful’, ‘colourful’ and ‘wow’.
The refurbished ward balances imagination with a practical understanding of the demands of a busy working environment. Colour schemes, furniture, fixtures, flooring, lighting, storage, art and signage work in harmony and were designed to solve practical issues, support staff in providing care and contribute to all patients’ well being, not only those with dementia.
The project team included Redlynch Ward staff, the hospital’s Estates team, Medical Device Management Services, Infection Control, Housekeeping and the architect, together with ArtCare’s Lesley Meaker. The project team realised the designs by building on the latest evidence and best practice, for example the King’s Fund ‘Enhancing the Healing Environment’ Dementia Care programme and listening to the needs of patients and staff. The team recognised that clutter can add to a patient’s confusion and an unwelcoming environment can increase levels of anxiety, whereas space away from the bedside for patients to eat, relax or meet with relatives can encourage socialising, and so alleviate some of their distress.
The improvements to Redlynch ward included bathrooms with accessible wet rooms; creating a social space for use by patients and visitors; high contrast colours used between walls, furniture and handrails with toilet doors all painted blue to improve orientation for patients; doors to staff only areas painted the same colour as the wall to discourage patients from entering these areas by mistake; plain, less clinical looking flooring to create a more homely space; the use of accent colour, themed artworks and signage making it easier for patients to find their way back to the correct bay and creating points of focus whilst in bed; acoustic ceiling tiles to aid noise reduction; adjustable standard and mood lighting allowing patients more control over their environment; a dedicated quiet room for relatives that is welcoming, a smaller reception desk and portable workstations meaning staff are near to patients when writing up their notes which provides them with a reassuring presence.
ArtCare’s Lesley Meaker said, “We really listened to what staff had to say about the running of the ward before we came up with the designs. There were many creative challenges along the way. Some of them are clearly visible in the photos taken before the ward was refurbished. One issue was patients gathering around the nurse base, which led us to create the social space. Another smaller problem was some non-movable sockets that were integrated into a piece of artwork – disguised as vintage radios. I think by looking at the needs of patients with dementia alongside those without we have created a distinctive ward environment that staff feel proud of.”
Funding for this project came from the Department of Health and the hospital’s Charitable Trustees. Pitton Ward was also similarly refurbished as Phase II of the project.