A project to improve the experience of people with dementia while they are hospital patients has produced positive results for both patients and staff.

Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust won a £75,000 grant to embed the Enriched Model of Dementia into the two dementia wards at the Evington Centre that serve Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland.
The approach involves getting to know the patient’s background, work history, culture and beliefs in addition to their clinical history and uses this to tailor individual care.

The project has been shortlisted in the specialist service category of the Health Service Journal Value awards. The award winners will be announced in Manchester on June 7.In the first few months of the project:

  • Independent observers recorded more positive interactions between staff and patients;
  • The new approach has enabled staff to reduce one-to-one observations for distressed behaviours without a rise in adverse incidents or falls;
  • Staff are more confident in their skills which has raised morale; and
  • Now the Project Steering Group is in discussion with a publisher about a book to help pass on the lessons to others in dementia care.

Dr Sam Hamer, a consultant psychiatrist specialising in Mental Health Serves for Older People, said: “Our staff will know the patients better as people rather than just an illness, and so are able to anticipate and respond to their needs in a far more human way.”

She gave as an example a female patient who showed little interest in food – a common issue among people with dementia. Staff spoke to her husband, realised that she was deeply religious and was used to someone saying a blessing before meals. The staff starting saying a blessing with the patient and the patient responded to this cue by eating more.

Staff have developed personalised approaches to meeting individual patients needs which means they are less likely to become frustrated or distressed.

Results of the project will be shared with independent charity The Health Foundation, which awarded the £75,000 grant to set up the project in 2016. The Health Foundation will disseminate findings to the professional royal colleges, who make it available to their members.

To hear more about the project from Dr Hamer, watch this short video: https://youtu.be/B6spnKNemSM .