By: Kristine Irwin, Nicola Beauregard, and Melony Hanson
At Elliot Hospital, we promote an environment that is welcoming and friendly to our patients who present with dementia. The hospital can seem busy, scary, and confusing to those who don’t quite understand what is happening around them. The Elliot provides patient-centered care in a calm and understanding environment.
Patients admitted with a diagnosis of dementia are identified in the medical record on admission, so appropriate tests and tools can be employed for proper care. A patient chart advisory includes the “This is Me” tool recommended by the Alzheimer’s Association as an effective tool to assist in patient care and includes information specific to the patient, such as likes, dislikes, and information on the patient’s routine. For example, perhaps a patient prefers to be called “Ted” instead of his legal name of “Edward,” and he is an avid sports fan. The information about the patient is used to assist the clinical staff in connecting and reassuring the patient in a stressful and unfamiliar situation. The completed “This is Me” tool will stay in the patient’s medical record to assist staff in the care of the patient; it can be updated as needed during future encounters with Elliot Health System.
Another way Elliot Hospital provides a dementia-friendly environment is by using “Dementia-Friendly Activity Carts,” which contain a variety of materials, including an activity for busy hands or a soft stuffed friend to provide comfort. The activity carts are stocked with items that may appeal to different interests and different levels of cognition, including books, games, and hands-on activities. A fidget blanket sewn by our sewing volunteers can be used as a lap blanket for warmth while maintaining the person’s focus away from scarier distractions. A stuffed animal or baby doll can make a person feel wanted and loved by having something to hug and hold. Music can calm, distract, and engage people in different ways, so we have dementia-friendly iPads that can offer games or music individualized to the person’s tastes.
It is important to us at The Elliot to ensure our patients are comfortable and feel safe while receiving care. That is why we continue to support and promote a dementia-friendly environment.