Piecing together fun crafts and information for dementia patients

KEEPING ACTIVE Activities co-ordinator Mandy Hawkins with a 'dementia passport' which tells her about a patient's preferences. Picture: Sarah Standing (151094-5255)
KEEPING ACTIVE Activities co-ordinator Mandy Hawkins with a 'dementia passport' which tells her about a patient's preferences. Picture: Sarah Standing (151094-5255)
  • Different activities created to stimulate the mind
  • Passport helps nurses to know their patient better
  • Readers urged to back Take care Together campaign
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OFTEN the key to helping a person with dementia is to understand what era the person is living in.

And that’s exactly what Mandy Hawkins, an activities co-ordinator for Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust, does with her patients.

When a new patient arrives...I encourage them to fill out a dementia passport

Mandy Hawkins, activities coordinator

She works in the revamped Daedalus Ward in the Gosport War Memorial Hospital and aims to make dementia patients feel safe and comfortable.

One of the ideas the trust has developed is creating a ‘dementia passport’.

Mandy said: ‘When a new patient arrives, and as long as they are happy to and their family is, I encourage them to fill out a dementia passport.

‘We go through the pack and I can find out things like if they have trouble seeing or hearing, what time they would like their meals and also find out more about them.

‘It’s helpful to know about their past, like what they did for a living.

‘So if someone was in the military profession then you’ll find they are very time-specific.

‘And all of that is fine, it means we can help tailor care around their needs.’

Mandy has also come up with a range of games and activities created to help with mental stimulation.

This includes adding different textures and materials to aprons, so a person can enjoy the feel.

Mandy added: ‘The aprons mean the patients can keep them in their laps and feel things like bean bags or beads attached.

‘I also get jigsaws that have 250 pieces and glue most of it together.

‘Then I leave small pockets for the patients to do and they really enjoy that.

‘I’ve also created a bingo game using bigger cards.’

Through our dementia campaign Take Care Together, The News has made three pledges – to raise the awareness of dementia, double the number of dementia friends and ensure no patient or carer feels alone.

See below to find out more about how to get involved in our year-long campaign.

Making changes

BRIGHTER colours, softer floors and bigger walkways are changes that have been made to a dementia ward to help patients.

The Daedalus Ward in Gosport War Memorial Hospital underwent a £95,000 revamp.

This has included painting handrails different colours, laying a spongy floor, having disposable curtains for bedrooms and murals on the wall.

Gethin Hughes, director of integrated services for Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the site, said: ‘The softer floors reduce the risk of falling, which is a major factor for injuries.

‘Also, by having spongy floors it reduces the impact if someone falls.

‘We have also painted murals on the wall, rather than have pictures hanging up, so patients don’t harm themselves.’

The ward has 17 beds and helps people with dementia.

Although many patients are aged over 65, people in their 50s have also received help.

People can stay for a few days, weeks or months, depending on the type of care they need.

There are also activity and recreational rooms.

Become a Dementia Friend

A DEMENTIA Friend learns more about what it’s like to live with the condition.

That then turns understanding into action, from helping someone find the right bus, to recognising signs, and supporting loved ones.

There are 2,247 people living with the condition in Portsmouth, around 1,133 in Gosport, 1,819 in Fareham and 2,031 in Havant.

Charity Alzheimer’s Society said its research shows 850,000 people in the UK have a form of dementia.

But this is set to increase dramatically – in less than 10 years it will rise to 1m and will soar to 2m by 2051.

This is why The News is launching its campaign Dementia Awareness Week with three pledges to ensure people are dementia-aware, as a community we help each other and no one feels alone.

At the moment there are 1,416 in Portsmouth, 405 in Gosport, 662 in Fareham, 96 in Havant and 443 in Waterlooville.

This is a figure we want to double.

Anyone of any age can be a dementia friend and there are two ways of doing it – take an online course lasting an hour, or join a face-to-face session.

The News wants to hear from all those who take part in a course, so we can see the difference you’re making.

There’s a number of ways in which you can do this – email priya.mistry@thenews.co.uk and give your name, age, address and contact details.

Or send a tweet to @portsmouthnews with a message and #newsdementia. Visit dementiafriends.org.uk