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New display boards for patients living with dementia

orientation boards

Pictured left to right: Trish Banner-Martin, Matron, Lisa Bellwood, Ward Clerk and Janet Mortimer, Dementia Specialist Nurse.

County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust is launching new 'orientation boards' for its elderly care wards across Darlington Memorial Hospital and University Hospital of North Durham.

The boards, which are designed to support and enhance the experience of dementia patients while in hospital, have been developed by the Trust's dementia nurse specialist Janet Mortimer with support from nurse colleagues.

The new boards, which will be located in patient side rooms, display a range of information including the date, month, season as well as photographs of local landmarks both past and present.

The boards are designed to be interactive so patients can choose and change the photographs which are displayed.

Many more elderly patients and particularly those living with dementia can become disorientated while in hospital and the boards are designed to support them with information which can help interactions with nursing staff and improve the overall patient experience.

Dementia nurse specialist, Janet Mortimer at the Trust said: "If a patient has been in hospital for a long time or for patients living with dementia, they can become disorientated and even knowing the date and month becomes difficult. So when, we as health care professionals are asking patients simple questions such as this and they don't know the answer it can be very distressing for them.

"These boards are a way of starting an interaction between a patient and health staff, something to use to begin a conversation and start to build a relationship to help the patient feel more comfortable in the hospital environment. We've made the boards interactive so patients are able to change the photos and information displayed on them which also provides a focus while they are in hospital.

"I'm really excited to see the launch of the new orientation boards. We've now got over 40 going up across the Trust and I'm pleased to see the idea become a reality. We've had a lot of help to get to this point, we started with just some laminated print outs and now have these fantastic magnetic boards - we've progressed so far and we hope the boards will bring some real benefits to our patients' experience."

'As I was very, very nervous, I must have been the worst patient ever and they were brilliant with me and I can't thank them enough - could you please pass on my sincere thanks.'

Patient, Hysteroscopy Unit, Chester-le-Street Community Hospital