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Dementia Friendly Hospitals Charter Launch – A Carers Perspective

Earlier this month we publicised the launch of the Dementia Friendly Hospitals Charter , and shared the experiences of tide member Frank Arrojo, who sat on the taskforce (read more about Frank’s journey here). In this guest blog  Janis Cottee, a tide member, shares her first impressions of the Charter. This month I attended the launch event of the Dementia Friendly Hospitals Charter, alongside Jean Tottie (Chair of Life Story Network and tide). As a former carer, I found the event very impactful and particularly the story shared by Tracey Shorthouse. Tracey is a younger person living with dementia, and a former nurse who gave a very touching account of her experiences. She spoke about how on a recent visit to hospital a nurse would not allow her mother to accompany her, and how hard this was. It was enlightening to hear the experiences of someone who can see things from both sides. My reading of the Charter is influenced by all of the stories I heard on the day, and my own experience as a carer. The members of the Dementia-Friendly Hospital Taskforce have certainly worked very hard on this. The main points that I was specifically happy to see included were around the role of care and carers. I was delighted to see that care is to be provided by staff that are appropriately trained, this will make a massive difference to people living with dementia. I was very happy to see that families and carers are recognised as partners in care alongside people living with dementia. It is also a huge step forward that the needs of family and carers will be assessed alongside those of the person living with dementia. This is a huge step forward for the rights and wellbeing of unpaid carers! The importance of person centred care can not be understated, so I was relieved to see this mentioned in the Charter. Person centred care includes listening to and respecting  the preferences of the person living with dementia, and their carers and loved ones. This starts with an accurate assessment of needs and the requirement that care should be delivered accordingly. Personally this is a relief for me, as I believe it may mean that delirium is detected much quicker. Other important specifications include the importance of monitoring diet, assistance with pain relief and the involvement of people in activities that encourage independence.  Additionally, the Charter talks about design changes which will be of importance to both people living with dementia and their carers, as environments promote safety, encourage independence and allow for social interaction. It was a relief to me that it was specified that volunteers will undertake dementia awareness training and will be regularly supervised and supported in their role. Hospital Trusts will now have a policy in place on the use of volunteers and their role in supporting patients with dementia and their carers. This is great progress! In conclusion, I’m happy and encouraged about the content of the Charter, and looking forward to seeing how things change because of it!

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