Rowans Hospice helping to make the UK a dementia-friendly place to live


This week, 20th – 26th in May is Dementia Action week, which is about highlighting the fact everyone in the community has a role to play in making the UK a dementia-friendly place to live. This includes Rowans, your community hospice.

Making the hospice dementia-friendly is one of the contributing factors in the renovation project which the Silver Jubilee Appeal hopes to fund. Ruth White, CEO, of Rowans Hospice commented at the launch of the Silver Jubilee Appeal: “As an increasing number of people are living to an older age, many have multiple conditions and complex needs. Therefore we are caring for more people with difficulties such as dementia. So it is imperative that the hospice responds to these changing patient needs and is renovated to make sure that the ward uses colour and design to help people feel comfortable and safe in a new environment.”  The renovation will mirror aspects of the Living Well building that has been especially designed to support people with memory loss.

Beyond A Buildings Fabric

Recognition of this change is not restricted to the future plans of the fabric and design of the hospice building. The Hospice is already addressing the changing needs of both its patients and carers through the services it provides from diagnosis. The weekly ‘Reminiscence Group’, held at the Living Well Centre is an example of this.

The group is run by Helen Slater, staff nurse at Living Well centre, who said:

“We were aware that there are people who are living with a life limiting illness who also suffer with conditions such as dementia, which makes their risk of being isolated so much greater. Therefore we researched different activities that we might be able to provide for them and there carers to socialise. We quickly identified that running Reminiscence Group offered potential benefits for patients and their carers.”

Helen went on to explain that reminiscence is about sharing life experience, memories and stories from the past. People with dementia usually recall things from many years ago rather than recent memories. So the group pulls on this strength, giving people with dementia a sense of competence and confidence, as it uses skills they still have.

Helen Slater with Jim and Maureen who attend the course

She stated: “It can help to give them a sense of self-worth as they share something about their past, which others are also interested in. Also, talking about the past can bring up happy memories and good feelings, which is positive in itself.”

The session is run as a group with carers encouraged to stay and everyone is provided with an opportunity to join in and reminisce. This means the whole group can learn and connect with each other and the focus is taken away from dementia, benefiting both the person with dementia and the carer, who gets the opportunity to see their loved one in new light.

To help prompt memories, Helen makes sure that they have a range of different props each week, around a central theme. “The libraries memory boxes have been a fantastic resource as they include objects to touch, pictures to look at and a poem or article to read,” states Helen.

“Running this group is really rewarding. It is so interesting hearing everyone’s memories, watching people become more animated when they recall different memories, seeing how one person’s memories can spark a memory in someone else. One of the best things is when the group leaves the room and go to the café area to carry on chatting.”

The need in our community for dementia friendly places and groups like Living Well Reminiscence Group, is evident by the success of the group which has seen attendance increase by 449% in the last year along. As the number people dying with dementia increases, it’s important that we make sure we renovate our community hospice into a dementia friendly place. So please pledge to do one thing for Rowans Hospice Silver Jubilee Appeal.

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