I am part of the Emergency Department Adult Safeguarding Group and the Older People’s Steering Group, as a dementia champion, concentrating on enhancing care for patients with dementia. Working in the Emergency Department at Royal Preston Hospital, I recognised dementia care was at a high standard, but could be enhanced for patients in the later stages of dementia.
Dementia is an umbrella term used to describe a range of progressive neurological disorders, that is, conditions affecting the brain. Among many different types of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease is the most common. Regardless of which type is diagnosed, each person will experience dementia in their own unique way (Dementia UK 2017).
I developed and implemented an adaptation to patient identification wristbands for patients with dementia, to enhance person-centred care and to ensure health professionals in emergency departments, X-ray, CT, wards and other departments patients attend, are discretely alerted when checking patient details so they can utilise their dementia training.
The adaptation to patient identification wristbands for individuals with dementia has the potential to ensure patients, family, carers and friends feel supported and are treated with compassion, dignity and respect by working as a team
A dementia ‘Forget me not’ flower cutter is used in the space between the patient details and the barcode. It is only to be used when a patient has received a diagnosis of dementia, in order to prevent confusion and distress. Person-centred care recognises dementia is part of the individual due to having dementia, but the person does not become dementia.
The adaptation to patient identification wristbands for individuals with dementia has the potential to ensure patients, family, carers and friends feel supported and are treated with compassion, dignity and respect by working as a team.
Aims and objectives
As health professionals it is our responsibility to respond to individual needs and to ensure time spent at a hospital visit is made as least stressful as possible. My aim was to achieve this through the adaptation to identification wristbands for patients with dementia. My wish is that on knowing and seeing the ‘Forget Me Not’ symbol on the wristband, this will remind or inform patients and families they are not on their own and increase staff awareness regarding dementia and person-centred care.
As health professionals it is our responsibility to respond to individual needs and to ensure time spent at a hospital visit is made as least stressful as possible
I also want to ensure other hospital trusts and communities are aware that the Royal Preston Hospital is the leader in this adaptation, and for them to consider that it may be beneficial to patients with dementia in their trust.
Dementia is an umbrella term used to describe a range of progressive neurological disorders, that is, conditions affecting the brain. Among many different types of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease is the most common. Regardless of which type is diagnosed, each person will experience dementia in their own unique way
Activity to date
The adaptation was published on the Academy of Fabulous Stuff website which resulted in a large number of Facebook and LinkedIn views and onward shares. I was shortlisted for an award at the London O2 and named the ‘Picalilley of the week’ for the share resonating the most the week it was published.
The adaptation received interest from a GP cluster, a University Hospital lead dementia practitioner and a dementia nurse specialist in a hospital setting. I sent YouTube videos I made regarding the adaptation to trusts expressing an interest in the initiative, regularly used telephone communication, emails and researched the GP cluster, dementia nurse specialist and the dementia lead practitioner’s trusts.
I applied to amend the Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (LTHtr) patient identification policy to include the adaptation. Alistair Burns, Professor of Old Age Psychiatry at the University of Manchester asked LTHtr for examples of good practice, an explanation and adaptation picture was sent. I was congratulated by the Chief Executive Karen Partington. Lancashire Teaching Hospitals Connect magazine published an article regarding the adaptation to patient identification wristbands.
A dementia ‘Forget me not’ flower cutter
Outputs to date
We have had confirmation from one hospital trust that they wish to undertake a trial of the adaptation to patient identification wristbands for patients with dementia.
We are currently waiting for research approval from the Health Research Authority. I have informed the dementia lead practitioner that once research approval is obtained, I will send a pre-trial questionnaire for them to complete along with the invitations and participant information sheets for potential participants.
The reason for this is to make sure the cutter is the correct size for the wristband, to ascertain which departments in the trust are happy to trial the adaptation, and who in the trust will be responsible for it.
I will then send a box to the dementia lead practitioner containing the staff questionnaires, invitation to potential participants, participant information sheet, staff questionnaires, a closed box for the completed questionnaires, posters, cutters, hooks and elastic bands so the cutters stay next to the wristband machine for a 60-day trial.
Through promotion on social media and via conferences, a wide variety of people throughout the country are now aware of the adaptation. I presented an academic at the Northern Lights Dementia conference in Manchester, and answered questions. I have also taken part in a dementia conference at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust where I spoke for five minutes to each of twelve small groups of health professionals regarding the adaptation.
The adapted wristband also reminds health professionals to keep up to date with dementia care training
Lessons learned to date
Governance and ethical approvals can take time
Reflection on impact
I measured the success of the adaptation through the feedback I have received from the patients’ family and friends. I have seen relief on relatives’ faces when I explain that the ‘Forget me not’ flower on the wristband will discretely alert health professionals throughout the hospital to use their dementia training. I hope that through knowledge of this relatives receive peace of mind when leaving a loved one with health professionals.
The adapted wristband also reminds health professionals to keep up to date with dementia care training.
I recently received a phone call from a department in the hospital stating a patient had left donations in a will for the ‘Forget me not’ scheme at Royal Preston Hospital. I do not receive donations but provided information to the appropriate department in the trust to ensure the patients wish is granted. In this instance, the adaptation to patient wristbands for those with dementia must have made a difference to the patient, family and friends.
Dementia UK (2017)