Striving to understand

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A TEAM of healthcare workers are taking extra steps to learn all they can about dementia.

Staff in the Holdforth Unit at the University Hospital of Hartlepool have been part of a pilot aimed at improving care for patients with dementia.

Jane Hayllar is one of North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust’s community dementia nurses, and has been working with staff in the rehabilitation ward at Hartlepool.

Staff have taken part in three main training sessions to help them understand more about the experiences that patients with dementia have.

The first session was aimed at raising awareness of the condition and informing staff about Dementia Friends - a national initiative where people can pledge to learn more about dementia and spread awareness.

Dementia Friends aims to show that it is possible to live well with dementia, especially with the support of friends. It is creating one million Dementia Friends.

The second session was about helping staff to improve the way they treat dementia patients who have challenging behaviour, and the third was based around delirium, which is an acute state of confusion which many people with dementia can suffer from.

Jane said: “Staff in the unit really embraced the training sessions and all of the other work we did around the ward to help raise their understanding of dementia and patients who have it.

“Some of the patients who are treated in this ward have dementia and staff were passionate about learning as much as they can so that they can provide the best care possible to patients.

“People with dementia can sometimes behave in a challenging way – for example, by being aggressive or shouting out.

“This can understandably be distressing for other people but by understanding what may cause this type of behaviour and how to deal with it when it does, it can really help.”

Jane added: “If staff can understand this behaviour, they can not only improve the care they provide to these patients they can also help other patients and visitors to be more understanding as well.”

The Holdforth unit was opened last October after the centralisation of critical care and general medicine at the University Hospital of North Tees.

It means that patients from the Hartlepool and Easington area who are admitted as to the University Hospital of North Tees can be transferred to the unit if they require rehabilitation.