Monday, 28 October 2013

Profile 1B Dementia Buddy Scheme at Darent Valley Hospital

This post gives brief details of the Dementia Buddy Scheme at Darent Valley Hospital (DVH).

Generally, on being admitted to hospital dementia patients tends to have the following:

  • to become very distressed,
  • to be more confused than prviously 
  • to stay in hospital more than their peers who do not have dementia
  • to have more accidents whilst in hospital than their peers who do not have dementia.

At DVH initiatives to combat these propensities include the Dementia Buddy Scheme where about 20 volunteers have been recruited and trained to give support to patients with dementia who are in wards at DVH. The role is social and advisory and is non-clinical. However, the volunteers enable the hospital's nurses on the wards to devote more time to the clinical needs of their dementia patients.

The role includes supporting the patient's family and carer. Focusing on the dementia patient, social and practical activities undertaken by a dementia buddy typically include:

  • social talking and reminiscing 
  • music, dance and games
  • help with eating and drinking
  • reading newspapers and history books
  • iPad work and other similar skills. 
The threefold purpose of the Scheme is ranges over the needs of a) the patient, b) the family and/or carer, and  c) the nursing and support staff. 

A number of patient-focussed objectives include:
  • reducing the patient's distress and confusion
  • helping to maintain cognitive capabilities
  • reducing accidents 
  • maintaining fitness and health with exercise and nutrition 
  • reducing the stay in hospital
  • reducing re-admissions.
For the family and/or carer the aims include:
  • re-assurance that the patient's welbeing is at least maintained if not improved
  • support for them is on hand, eg information and referral to needed support services.
Nursing and support staff benefit from trained 'specialist' volunteers in dementia care as follows:
  • their time for clinical work is enhanced by their patients being less distressed, calmer and happier
  • members of the patient's family and their carers being reassured and more aware of the benefits of treatment and social care
  • being exposed to examples of care-linked best practice 
  • generally becoming more dementia focussed in their own work. 
Finally, there tends to be a happier ambiance on the wards such that staff retention is enhanced.