Ambitious plan will improve care for people living with dementia

Trust Chief Executive Susan Acott with a Dementia Friends sign
Trust Chief Executive Susan Acott already completed her Dementia Friend training

East Kent Hospitals Trust has pledged to make a difference to the experience of anyone living with dementia by training all 8,000 staff as Dementia Friends.

The campaign was launched this week by Trust Chief Executive Susan Acott, who has already completed her training under the scheme endorsed by the Alzheimer’s Society.

Specialist dementia nurses and Dementia Champions have trained another 500 colleagues, and the ambition is for all clinical and non-clinical staff to be trained, alongside directors and the Board of Governors, by the end of 2020 – making the Trust the first hospital Trust in the country where all staff are Dementia Friends. People working for contractor 2gether, for example as porters, housekeepers or in hospital restaurants, will also be encouraged to sign up and some have already completed the training.

Susan said: “One of our Matrons, Sue Brassington, championed the idea and made me realise we all have an opportunity to make a huge difference to the experience of our patients.

“We can all – clinical and non-clinical staff – be the difference between a very stressful visit to a hospital or clinic for someone living with dementia, or people feeling cared for, safe and respected.

“We already do a huge amount to improve the experience of people living with dementia, from the work led by our dedicated dementia specialist lead nurse to building our new dementia community at Dover.

“Now every single one of us can play a part in building on that, so that whichever site or department someone visits they know the team will understand dementia and be able to offer support.”

Dementia Friends is an Alzheimer’s Society initiative to make it easy for people to learn about dementia and the small ways they can help someone with the condition.

Friends are asked to commit to making everyday life easier for people living with dementia, from helping someone who may be agitated or distressed to learning how to assist in making their hospital stay less confusing.

The Trust’s charity is also aiming to raise £500,000 to fund projects for people with dementia, including arts sessions, dementia cafes and specialist equipment to help people relax and feel more at ease. For more information see https://www.ekhcharity.org.uk/about-us/dementia-appeal/

For more information on Harmonia Village, the new dementia-friendly community at Dover, visit https://www.ekhuft.nhs.uk/patients-and-visitors/news-centre/the-harmonia-village-at-dover/