The Redhill hospital, run by Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust (SASH), is shortlisted for the Best Dementia Friendly Hospital and the Best Dementia Garden in the Dementia Care Awards 2019. Winners will be presented with their trophies at a special event to be held on 7 November at Doncaster Racecourse and attended by an expected 400 guests.

The significant improvements that have led to this achievement are also demonstrated in the results of a national audit, which ranks East Surrey Hospital joint top in the country for nutrition and governance. The recent results from the National Audit of Dementia in general hospitals shows that the hospital has made improvements in all areas assessed.

SASH ranked joint highest for nutrition and governance, and was in the top ten in five out of seven categories.

The National Audit of Dementia looks at the quality of care received by people with dementia and is commissioned by the Healthcare Quality Improvement Partnership on behalf of NHS England. The latest publication shows East Surrey Hospital has recorded remarkable improvement since the last audit in 2017.

Admiral Nurses are specialist dementia nurses who give expert practical, clinical and emotional support to families living with dementia. Chris O’Connor, consultant Admiral Nurse at SASH said: “One of the main aims of our dementia strategy is to make East Surrey Hospital dementia friendly by raising awareness of how dementia impacts on our patients and looking at how we can improve their experience while in hospital. We’ve worked really closely with lots of different members of the clinical team. One example is our dietitians who have helped us make sure the right food is available for people living with dementia, as often they need high calories and regular opportunities to eat. It’s been a real team effort.”

Alongside this, the hospital developed a dementia strategy which focuses on four key areas; patient engagement, the patient experience, training and the environment. This has led to strengthened governance and better data which mean the hospital’s staff are now better able to ensure people with dementia have the right support when they need it and are cared for in the most appropriate environment.

In the last year the hospital has been recognised as a dementia friendly hospital by the National Dementia Action Alliance.  The Trust uses the Butterfly Scheme which ensures that patients living with dementia receive the right support in hospital, introduced dementia leads in various areas and enlisted the support of dementia volunteers who support activities on the wards.

Parts of the hospital environment have also been transformed in line with dementia friendly design principles. The new dementia friendly garden, Camomile Courtyard, is shortlisted for the national award and provides a relaxing space away from the hospital’s buildings. Part-funded by SASH Charity donations, it includes stimulating sounds and colours and ‘walls of recall’ to help evoke memories and conversations.

Dr Iain Wilkinson, clinical lead for dementia at SASH said: “Staff across the hospital have worked incredibly hard on a strategy to help us provide the very best care for people living with dementia. We’ve worked together with carers and voluntary organisations to make improvements and I am delighted to see these recognised in the latest audit.”

Dr Iain Wilkinson and Chris O’Connor were recently invited to present the improvements at a national workshop organised by the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

Michael Wilson CBE, chief executive at SASH, said: “Providing outstanding care for people living with dementia is incredibly important and I would like to pay tribute to everyone involved in delivering these improvements. We will continue to do all we can to make our services the best they can be for our local community.”