Two hospitals in Dorset are the latest to introduce a scheme that lets carers visit a loved one with dementia in hospital outside of visiting hours
Going into hospital when you have dementia can sometimes be a very traumatic experience. The alien sights and sounds, the unknown people, not to mention the fact you might also be in pain or uncomfortable from another health condition.
It’s why it’s so important that not only do hospital staff recognise the needs of people living with dementia and take steps to support them, but also allow the main carer access to the person whenever is needed, and not just during regular visiting hours.
Now three hospitals in Dorset have set up a carer ‘passport’ system which will allow main carers of those with dementia to visit someone whenever they need.
Helen Hutchings, carer’s co-ordinator for Dorset Healthcare, said:
‘We recognise that people with memory or recognition problems can find hospitals a particularly frightening and disorienting place.
‘Having the presence and support of their regular carer can make a big difference, and help us to provide the best possible care. We want to make carers feel welcome, and the new passport is something simple which could have a big impact.’
It will be piloted over the next three months in three of Dorset’s community hospitals, including Weymouth and Portland. Carers who are visiting someone with dementia will be given a special badge, or ‘passport’, which will allow them to stay in hospital beyond regular visiting hours, which will hopefully help the person with dementia feel calmer and happier.
The scheme was sparked by John’s Campaign, which was set up by the author Nicci Gerrard in 2014 after her father, who had dementia, went into hospital and suffered an enormous decline in his health and mental wellbeing because of the trauma of being separated from his family.
Sid Wheeler, from Dorset, who helped care for his late father Alan during 2015, welcomed the news of the introduction of the passport scheme:
‘My Dad had substantial needs as a result of Lewy Body Dementia, which resulted in several admissions to Dorset’s general and rehab hospitals.
‘Allowing relatives and carers open access hopefully goes a long way to alleviate such distress, and helps NHS staff as well. It’s fantastic that carers’ passports are to be trialled by Dorset HealthCare. It all helps spread much needed awareness and wider conversation.’
This isn’t the first time that a scheme such as this has been set up in hospitals. It’s also been trialled or set up in hospitals in Essex and Middlesex, and it’s hoped more hospitals around the countrt will be able to set up similar schemes.