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Help us transform hospital stays for dementia patients at Addenbrooke's

One quarter of all patients at Addenbrooke’s Hospital suffers from dementia, with numbers increasing. Whilst the major risk factor for dementia is age, there are currently 45,000 people in the UK under the age of 65 living with dementia. Whilst rare, it may affect people as young as thirty.

For these vulnerable patients, the hospital can be a frightening place. The unfamiliar environment, the noises and routines can leave them anxious and confused and affect their ability to recover. While Addenbrooke’s nursing staff do their best to support these patients, caring for people with dementia can be very challenging, even for experienced staff.

One tried and tested way to ease patients’ anxiety and help them communicate is Dementia Reminiscence Therapy. Many people with dementia remember the distant past much more clearly than recent events. Reminiscence therapy uses patients’ powerful feel-good memories to coax them out of isolation, help them communicate their needs and provide comfort in a time of distress. Used during treatment, reminiscence therapy can help diffuse challenging situations, alleviate frustration and anger for both patient and carer. Improving communication is crucial to make sure patients with dementia receive the care they require and deserve.

On easy-to-use touch-screen computers, patients can listen and sing along to the music of their youth, watch old films or play simple games. This is a gentle but effective way to calm patients when they are anxious and distressed – reducing the need for anti-psychotic medication. Family members can upload photos, which help patients remember and share their life story. Being able to do so improves patients’ well-being and mental health. Patients, staff or family members can customise a patient’s profile to include information about who they are, what they like and what they need (eg eating & drinking, getting around, eyesight and hearing). These profiles help staff to engage patients in meaningful conversations and to make sure that care is in line with what patients want and need.

‘I see daily what an incredible transformation reminiscence therapy can have on patients’ well-being. Patients love using it and it helps keep them calm. I see a much better connection with their carer and I also see patients being brought together’.
- Valerie Freestone, Specialist Clinical Dementia Nurse at Addenbrooke’s Hospital

Valerie has successfully trialed the system. Now, we want to equip more areas of the hospital, in particular the Emergency Department and Clinical Decision Unit, with these powerful tools, which can open the door to the lives of patients with dementia.

We are looking for funding of £30,000 to invest in six new systems to help patients with dementia. We want to create a relaxing and memorable atmosphere for this vulnerable group of people.

Please help us transform hospital stays for dementia patients and allow Addenbrooke’s staff to provide the outstanding and compassionate care for which they are renowned. Please call 01223 348464 if you would like to help.