With the numbers of dementia patients rising as our population ages - and as an increasing number of younger people are experiencing dementia symptoms, the Western Trust has taken steps to make sure they offer the best support and care possible to patients and families facing this devastating diagnosis.
This week the Trust officially opened their new therapeutic hub and refurbished dementia ward at Waterside Hospital - designed to offer support during the earlier stages of dementia and throughout the assessment process.
The unit, which can cater for up to eight in patients as well as offering outpatient care and support for families, has been designed in conjunction with The Dementia Centre.
The collaboration has ensured that every design feature is dementia friendly and encourages patients to remain as independent as possible for as long as possible.
Giving a tour to visiting press and dignitaries, Majella Magee, Service Improvement Lead with the Western Trust explained some of the features.
Corridors are purposely designed to be wide and spacious - and all rooms, from the communal spaces to the en-suite bedrooms are designed so that patients have room to move around freely - reducing the risks of falls or accidents.
The colours on the walls have been designed to compensate for fading eyesight and to help patients navigate the hub - from private spaces to communal areas and staff areas.
Block colours, gentle lighting, pictures from the past and items for reminiscence therapy (such as an old Brother sewing machine, a fully functional kitchen, and gardens which will be user friendly) have all formed part of the design.
The refurbishment has taken 18 months and some of the principals adopted in the redesign will be considered when going forward with further development on Trust sites given the increasing incidences of dementia in our population.
Speaking at the unveiling of the unit Western Trust Chairman Gerard Guckian said: “The enhancement of the newly refurbished Dementia Care Ward and Hub in Waterside Hospital, as a result of this significant financial investment by the Western Trust, is very welcome.”