New Buddy Chairs Help Families Stay With Loved Ones

Family members caring for patients with dementia at Forth Valley Royal Hospital are to get extra support so they can stay with their loved ones overnight, where appropriate. It follows the purchase of 16 buddy chairs as part of John’s Campaign – a national drive which aims to provide the best possible care for people with dementia when they are admitted to hospital.

The decision to buy the chairs resulted from a successful trial in Wards B21 and A32 at the hospital. Although NHS Forth Valley already operates flexible visiting times, those with dementia may benefit from reassurance and support throughout the night from a family member or carer who knows them best.

Alzheimer Scotland Dementia Nurse Consultant, Nicola Wood, who is based at Forth Valley Royal Hospital, said: “We are delighted that we now have the facilities to support overnight stays in all of our inpatient areas. Having family members present during what may be an unfamiliar experience can go a long way to preventing potential distress for people with dementia. We would encourage people with dementia and their families to speak with staff regarding how they and their loved one can be supported during a hospital admission to ensure the best possible experience for all.”

NHS Forth Valley was the first Health Board in Scotland to implement John’s Campaign, named after Dr John Gerrard, who died in November 2014. It was founded by his daughter Nicci Gerrard and her friend Julia Jones with a single, simple principle of ensuring that when someone with dementia is admitted to hospital, the staff should do all within their power to make access easy for family carers and utilise their expert knowledge and their love.

NHS Forth Valley Director of Nursing Professor, Angela Wallace, added: “We are pleased to be part of this innovative and important campaign. We have a person-centred approach to visiting, which ensures flexibility to suit the needs of the individual and family, friends and carers are encouraged to visit throughout a patient’s stay. Every request is assessed on an individual basis.”

The buddy chairs are just one strand of a wide range of supports available for people with dementia across NHS Forth Valley. Thirty-seven dementia champions work across the Health Board area to provide specialist advice and training to local staff. Activity boxes have been purchased which relatives and staff can use to engage and interact with patients. These include dominoes, cards and reminiscence boxes which are available throughout inpatient areas and wards.

Another initiative which has been introduced to support local families caring for people with dementia is meaningful music, where a person’s personal playlist is downloaded to allow them to listen to it with their family or carers.