20 April 2023

Meet our dementia care team

The dementia care team support people with dementia and those with cognitive impairment or delirium during their hospital stay. They offer help and advice to patients, their families and staff on their treatment and care.

We spoke to Claire Shimmons, a Dementia Care Practitioner, about her role and the different ways the trust is helping those with dementia.

“We are here to support anyone with dementia or who has cognitive impairment or delirium. We deal with patients who come in for any reason, such as a fall, and support both them and staff during their stay.

“One of the main ways we can help patients with dementia is the use of the Butterfly Scheme. This helps colleagues identify which patients have additional support needs due to a cognitive impairment. Any patient can have a discreet butterfly put on the wall by their bed or on their notes. This allows the interaction with the patient to be more tailored to their needs and act as a reminder that they may need an additional explanation of what is going on and help to prepare for what is happening with tests and procedures. We also check collateral history with carers and ask if they can complete the ‘Reach Out to Me’ form which provides information on how we can best support the person while they are here.

“We can be a link between carers and the ward and offer support to carers as it can be a difficult time when a loved-one is in hospital. We can make onward referrals for further carer support if needed.”

Patients are also offered activities that support their wellbeing, independence and alleviate boredom while they are away from their normal routine and familiar surroundings. Patients with more sensory needs can be provided with fidget items, such as a twiddle mitt, if appropriate, which can distract and help to relax them.

Any member of staff can request to be a dementia champion, which means they are a dementia role model in their teams and promoting the best ways to support patients with memory difficulties. They can also ensure that all staff are familiar with the Butterfly Scheme, including the ‘Reach Out to Me’ and the REACH response of Remind, Explain, Arrange, Check, History.

“Although each day is different, the main tasks of a dementia care practitioner is to support patients in the hospital, support their carers, and provide advice and training for staff. We encourage all staff to undertake Dementia Awareness training and attend our one-day study day or experience what it is like to have dementia in our new virtual dementia tour.

“We collect magazines for patients so if you have any lying around at home then please bring them in and donate them to us. We also have lots planned for Dementia Action Week (May 15th to 21st) so watch this space.

“Our aim is to improve the experience of patients and their carers. We are here as an additional voice and work alongside ward staff in advocating for patients’ needs. I really enjoy my job and feel really privileged to be in this role. Small changes make a big difference.”

Photo L-R: Claire Shimmons, Dementia Care Practitioner, Sharon Sheldrick, Dementia Care Associate Practitioner, Mike Carroll, Admin Support and Julie Allen, Dementia Care Associate Practitioner.