Care stepped up for the elderly

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WITH one of the highest proportions of elderly patients in the entire country, a number of projects are under way at Scarborough Hospital to ensure older people receive the best possible care.

Consultant physician Ed Jones, who specialises in care of the elderly, explained that a third of patients coming into hospital are over 80 and two thirds are over 65.

With this in mind, Scarborough Hospital recently set aside two wards – Oak and Graham – specifically for older people.

Mr Jones said: “We made the change to speciality wards in November and it’s working really well.

“The staff have specialist training and we have further training and development in dementia care happening at the moment.”

He added that all adult patients admitted to hospital are now screened for dementia. If they are showing signs of the condition, they are referred to a specialist mental health liaison nurse.

The trust is also working on implementing a Dementia Care Plan, which is also going well.

Part of the plan is a section called “All About Me”, where each patient tells staff about key factors that will make their stay more comfortable.

These include little but important things, such as what they like to be called, and whether they have milk in their tea.

The answers are kept on record and can be filled out with the help of a family member if necessary.

Work is also under way in falls prevention, again with simple but effective methods being used.

Mr Jones explained: “Patients at high risk of falling are being asked to wear red socks or red slippers.

“If a member of staff sees a patient wearing these, they know instantly that they need to be accompanied.”

He added that the unique project, which is not thought to have been done anywhere else, is due to start next month.

Staff will also be doing “care rounds” with the aim of reducing falls.

A high percentage of falls happen when people try and walk to the toilet unaided, so staff will be proactively going round and asking patients if they need to go, and offering help.

Work is also progressing in the area of ortho-geriatrics, with patients coming under the joint care of a physician and surgeon.

Patients who have suffered a fractured neck of femur are given a falls assessment following surgery, with the aim of trying to prevent any further fracture.

Scarborough is doing better than the national average on this, with the trust’s good work in ortho-geriatrics highlighted in the last Care Quality Commission report.

Other projects aimed at caring for the elderly include a dining companion scheme, which was launched last month with many volunteers coming forward.

The project is designed to give older people companionship and assistance at mealtimes, to ensure that they enjoy their food and have a helping hand if they need it.

Mr Jones is delighted with recent developments, saying: “Things are really moving on a pace and it’s fantastic. The changes have made a real difference.”