Updated dementia care unit opens

Posted on Tue, 20/11/2018


A mental health unit for older patients with dementia has now reopened following a £750,000 redevelopment.

The significant investment in the Cragside Court unit at the hospital provides a wide range of improvements for patients and enables staff to offer much better care in a modern, safe and therapeutic environment.

Staff, governors and the deputy Mayor of Gateshead Councillor Rachel Mullen attended a preview opening of the unit on Friday before patients moved back in.

The updated building will increase privacy and dignity by incorporating more private spaces for patients as well as introducing a separate examination and treatment room.

The transformation of the unit will enable staff to provide a much better service for patients in the hospital and many of the people working there have been closely involved in the new designs for the building.

Acting chief executive John Maddison said: “These improvements will make a real difference to some of the most vulnerable patients that we care for at the hospital. Everyone is really pleased with the final results which are the culmination of a great deal of work by our staff who are passionate about the care we are able to provide for people with dementia.

“In Gateshead we want to provide the highest possible levels of care for our patients and this newly re-opened unit will really support this ambition. We have consulted with a range of experts in designing these new facilities for people with dementia as well working closely with own service users, carers, families and staff.”

The facility has undergone a range of major improvements such as:

  • better lighting and flooring
  • improved facilities for patients and staff
  • the introduction of friendlier spaces that will be more familiar to patients
  • dementia friendly signage
  • a more personal approach to each patient
  • all single sex rooms with ensuite toilets

The new unit also contains artwork and a range of objects that help patients uncover memories and reminisce about times in their past. The new space will also enable staff to make better use of the activities they arrange for inpatients such as dancing and movie nights.

One of the key aims of the new design is to help reduce the tension, anxiety and challenging behavior that can often accompany serious dementia by providing a much more comfortable and stimulating environment.

Kelly Chequer, Nurse Consultant for Older Person’s Mental Health in Gateshead, said:  “We’re really excited about these changes and what they mean for our patients and staff. Cragside Court is now a fantastic new facility for Gateshead that will encourage better interaction between patients and staff, allowing us to offer a much better service to some of the most vulnerable people.

“The changes also focus on improving the overall patient experience and reducing the risk of slips, trips and falls through intelligent design. This will minimise restrictions and maximise independence for people in the building, allowing patients to retain and build on their skills which can often be seriously affected by an admission to hospital, as well as allowing staff to support them through observations that don’t intrude on privacy or dignity.

“We want to ensure the highest quality environment for people who are in hospital with dementia and focus on being dementia friendly, safe and therapeutic. We have modernised the building in line with the very latest national standards and ideas around caring for people with dementia, including access to natural light and sensory stimulation.”

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