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RD&E Staff receive specialist training for dementia patients

Royal Devon & Exeter ward staff have received specialist training on how to look after dementia patients who may be confused or agitated during their hospital stay.

In what is believed to be the first bespoke training of its kind in the country, the RD&E security service has teamed up with Devon Partnership Trust to provide training and support for a range of hospital ward staff on how to prevent, diffuse and manage scenarios related to this health condition.


Matron Debbie Cheeseman working with security liaison officer Jason Burford on Kenn Ward

Pictured right: Matron Debbie Cheeseman working with security liaison officer Jason Burford on Kenn Ward


Dementia is a syndrome (a group of related symptoms) that is associated with an ongoing decline of the brain and its abilities including memory, thinking, language, understanding and judgement. People with dementia may also become apathetic, have difficulty controlling their emotions or behave inappropriately in social situations. Aspects of their personality may change or they may see or hear things that other people do not, or have false beliefs. Most cases of dementia are caused by damage to the structure of the brain.

In England there are currently 570,000 people living with dementia and this number is expected to double over the next 30 years. The number of inpatients with dementia symptoms at the RD&E Wonford has increased by 25% over the past two years (2009-2011).

On Kenn and Bovey elderly care wards at the RD&E about 35 staff have received training on ways to improve communication with dementia patients and how best to respond and manage patients with this condition. At least 80 staff will be trained by the end of this year.

Matron Debbie Cheeseman said: "The nursing and therapy staff work daily with very challenging patients who often have severe dementia. Our patients should be looked after by staff who understand their needs and will look after them and their families with kindness and consideration. To have our own training designed within our wards has been a fantastic development. We now have ward champions who support and teach their colleagues and ensure that this improvement in patient care goes from strength to strength."

The Psychiatric Liaison Team for Older Adults has been in existence for just over a year. Senior Mental Health Practitioners Andrea Fairclough and Vicky Shorters from Devon Partnership NHS Trust are facilitating the 'Dementia Champions' training.  Andrea said: "By teaming up with the security team, we have been able to think about many of the challenging situations that arise on a day-to-day basis. We are continually impressed with the quality of care provided to people with dementia on these wards and the staff's commitment to the Dementia Champions training.  We are also facilitating a regular group which supports staff in continually developing their skills. Following the success so far, we hope to extend the training to staff groups across the hospital in the near future."    

Simon Dallas of the RD&E Security Service said: "The majority of reported incidents of staff injuries in the workplace are accidental, involving patients whose health condition or the hospital environment affects their behaviour or response to what is happening around them. We hope this training can prevent and reduce these incidents occurring so the ward is a safe and calm place for patients and to work in."


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