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New hospital crockery improves meal times for dementia patients

Mealtimes for patients with dementia are being improved at hospitals across County Durham and Darlington thanks to the introduction of new specialist crockery.

People suffering from dementia often experience visual problems including not being able to distinguish between different colours. Studies have found that this can compound difficulties at mealtimes. If the crockery is a similar colour to the food being served then a person with dementia may not be able to see the contrast and recognise the food that is there to be eaten.

As part of its 'dignity in care' campaign, County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust has recently introduced new crockery for four elderly care wards across its hospitals to help improve mealtimes for those patients suffering from dementia.

Thanks to funding from each of the hospital 'Friends' organisations, Darlington Memorial Hospital, University Hospital of North Durham and Bishop Auckland Hospital are now all serving meals on new yellow melamine crockery.

Eileen Aylott, Practice Development Matron at the Trust said: "The number of people living with dementia is expected to double over the next 30 years. The majority of these patients will be elderly and may at some point require a stay in hospital. At the Trust we have been looking at our practices to ensure that these patients are cared for in a dignified manner.

"We are introducing a number of schemes to improve dignity in care, including the new crockery. It has been proven that contrasting crockery enhances the food on the plate which encourages dementia patients to eat the food which has been served. Alongside the new crockery we have also introduced new signage on one of our elderly care wards which include visual symbols as well as names for different areas such as the bathroom and toilet areas which help those with dementia recognise and identify these different areas and we have also been able to purchase some new red toilet seats for these wards to help patient orientate themselves with more ease."

Dementia is a common condition. In the United Kingdom there is an estimated 821,000 people living with dementia representing 1.3% of the population.

Published: 11 April 2011


'I would like to thank all the staff for my treatment and their professionalism.'

Patient, Cardiology Department, Bishop Auckland Hospital