The UHDB Dementia Team and Library staff recently visited Year 8 students at David Neiper Academy in Alfreton to shine a light on the excellent ways UHDB support patients with dementia and learning disabilities within our care.
In their talk to the students, they focused particularly around activity and distractions for our most vulnerable patients – and even included some role playing to engage the students.
They were able to see some of the fantastic ‘distraction boxes’ or ‘reminiscence boxes’ that we offer to vulnerable patients. The students have been tasked with creating their own boxes that are suitable for use in our hospitals – and the Dementia and Library colleagues who attended will return to judge the designs and choose the winner.
Jane Gregory, Senior Sister with the Dementia Team, said it felt “amazing” to share their expertise and experience with the young students.
“We were all very pleased to be asked to go – and moved by how enthusiastic and engaged the kids were.
“They were so interested to hear not only how we support our vulnerable patients, but also about the different careers that the NHS can offer, in all areas.
“We hadn’t made any visits to the School before, but after they approached our Library staff, we were keen to work with them – and we can’t wait to return and see the distraction boxes they’ve designed for us, which I’m sure will be put to good use.”
Explaining what the ‘distraction’ or ‘reminiscence’ boxes consist of, Jane explained that they are boxes of different sizes that contain a range of different items that are “meaningful to the patient, and focused around a particular theme.
“They’ll contain things the patient can look at, touch, smell – and even hear! We try to engage all five senses on a subject that means something to them, or time in their life that they look back on fondly. For example – the theme could be the seaside, WWII, or the Royal Family!
“This is a really useful therapeutic technique for the patients we care for. With many of our patients, managing them with positive distractions using meaningful objects can be more effective than medication.
“Not only is it good for managing the patient, but just by preparing these for them, we also get to know much more about their life experiences and who they are as people – which is so important to us caring for our patients effectively.
“We’ve told the students to involve their parents, grandparents and more when creating their designs – and we cannot wait to see what they come up with.”
The students will be designing their own distraction boxes and the dementia team plan to visit the school again before Christmas to see their creations, with the winning distraction box having a home the UHDB dementia wards to support patients.