Waltzing the Wards

Posted on Wed, 24/05/2017 by Aaron Walton, Activities Facilitator, QE Gateshead

Aaron dancing with patient

From afternoon teas and a game of dominoes to planting tomato seeds in the potting shed or sharing a dance - Aaron Walton always has something special up his sleeve for patients on Ward 23, our specialist dementia unit.

Armed with an arsenal of games and activities from memory boxes supplied by Beamish Museum, to manicure sets, games, crafts and puzzles, Aaron aims to ensure that there is plenty to keep boredom at bay during a patient’s stay on the ward, which may last for several months.

"A typical day is a hard one to pinpoint as no two are the same.

I start my day by greeting all the patients and asking how they are, which allows me to plan my day – focusing particularly on the ones that are feeling upset, confused or agitated.

This also gives me an opportunity to introduce myself to any new patients and find out more about them, their lives and their interests, allowing me to promote activities that they may enjoy.

Then it’s off to the day room for the morning with musical bingo, coffee mornings, table-top games, knit and natter and arts and crafts.  I try to include familiar music in the background when I’m doing all activities and we often end up singing along while we’re busy.

We often get so caught up doing activities that this leads us right through to lunchtime, where the patients enjoy getting together around the table for their lunch and being given odd jobs like helping to set the table, making mealtimes a social event.

On the afternoon, Tuesdays is Cream Tea time for patients and visitors and we also have a Pets as Therapy Dog visit on a Friday which gets a fantastic response from the patients, it’s amazing how a furry friend can get a positive reaction from even the most withdrawn patients.

On the other days I try to do 1-1 activities for patients who don’t have visitors or are unable to leave their bed, which allows me to give a more personal approach to activities and ensure everyone is included regardless of their ability.

I joined the trust four months ago, having worked in a similar role in a care home and also volunteering with a charity in Sri Lanka.

I am really enjoying it, the patients and the team on the ward and fantastic and it’s a brilliant feeling to think you are helping to brighten up someone’s day."


Aaron is one of a number of activity facilitators employed by the Trust as part of QE Gateshead’s investment in creating a more dementia-friendly environment. Ward 23 is the hospital’s specialist dementia unit. One in 14 patients over the age of 65 currently has a diagnosis of dementia – around 850,000 patients in the UK and with an aging population that is expected to increase to 1.7 million in 2015. Almost 70% of hospital beds are currently occupied by older people and one-half of these beds have patients with some cognitive impairment, including dementia and delirium, in them.


Read more about our vintage tea room and potting shed Reminiscence Pods or Rempods.


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