Well I am on my LAST University placement and the game is really on! As final year students we are expected to be a lot more independent as we’ll be heading out into the working world in the very near future!
I’m on an emerging placement, a ‘dementia care initiative’, working within an acute hospital setting but focused on the mental health needs of those with dementia. This is a really important area of work as, so often in hospital, mental health needs are not the key area of focus, despite this being a huge part of a person’s life!
The aim of the project is to provide meaningful activities for people at the hospital with dementia, with the aim of helping them get better sooner, and get home. Because, let’s face it, no one wants to be in hospital longer than they have to be and those with dementia can get very distressed in hospital which in turn leads to longer admissions.
I’ve already found that I’m having to be quite creative on this placement as there isn’t actually a budget for the project! A lot of the people that I’ve met so far are in the later stages of dementia and would probably benefit from some sensory type activities. Buying this equipment can be expensive and so I have come up with some homemade sensory things. So far I have made a rain stick from a mailing tube, tinfoil and rice; squidgy bags from hair gel and food colouring; and I’ve also got lots of different fabrics from a local fabric store so that different textures can be felt and explored.
As I’ve mentioned before, my main focus is on activity. Now I invite you to imagine a classic hospital setting. What do you see? People lying in, or sitting by, their bed all day…how boring! Of course people in hospital are there for a reason, but that’s not to say that most cannot participate in activities whilst they’re there.
An afternoon tea group has been set up within the hospital for those with dementia which means they can get off the ward for a while and socialise with others. Also currently being trialled on one ward is the bedside tables being moved into the middle of the bay and all of the patients eating their lunch together. Already the results of this have been great! We are seeing patients that are normally being fed by staff picking up their knives and forks and eating all of their lunch independently.
There’s no reason why this socialisation needs to be purely at lunch, why not have group activities happen during the day where patients can socialise and interact with each other?
That’s just a snap shot of some of the things that are happening on my placement and I’m only one week in. Keep your fingers crossed for me!