NHS cataract surgery provider praised by the Alzheimer’s Society for its efforts in becoming ‘Dementia Friendly’

The high level of care given to patients with dementia at SpaMedica has been recognised by the Alzheimer’s Society.

SpaMedica’s Chelmsford hospital has received the charity’s ‘Working to Become Dementia Friendly’ award, for ‘identifying and improving its services and experience for people with dementia, their families and carers’.

Feedback from the Alzheimer’s Society highlighted how the Chelmsford site – which provides NHS cataract surgery, YAG laser capsulotomy and wet AMD treatment – has worked closely with the charity, the Chelmsford Dementia Friendly community and other key stakeholders to enhance its patient offer.

The award follows the implementation of SpaMedica’s Dementia Action Plan across all 46 of its UK hospitals, incorporating the existing work of staff at each location in supporting patients with dementia. It includes providing helpful resources, such as dedicated notice boards, posters and booklets for patients and carers, plus memory boards and ‘twiddle octopuses’ – knitted toys that help to ease patients’ restless hands, providing tactile and sensory stimulation.

All SpaMedica hospital staff undertake dementia awareness training, and there is a ‘Dementia Ambassador’ at each site, ensuring best practice and information sharing to continually improve patient service.

There are currently around 900,000 people in the UK living with dementia – a number which is expected to rise sharply in the coming years.

Simon Shepherd, Chief Operating Officer, SpaMedica said: “Patient care is our biggest priority, and our teams work consistently to ensure that our patients with dementia and their carers feel looked after and respected from their very first contact with us.

“We’re delighted for the team at Chelmsford that their hard work has been recognised. On a national level, I’m proud to say that their work is mirrored at SpaMedica sites up and down the country, as our national Action Plan demonstrates. Each week, our hospitals receive hugely positive feedback, including from patients – and relatives of patients – with dementia, thanking our teams for the care they’ve provided, and we’re committed to ensuring continued assessment and improvement for optimum patient service.”

Mark Neville, Alzheimer’s Society Dementia Friendly Communities Coordinator and Pan Essex Dementia Friendly Community Co-chair said: “A person is formally diagnosed with dementia approximately every three minutes in the UK, and it is currently projected that one in three of us will live with dementia at some point during our lifetime, so the importance of increased awareness and understanding throughout our communities cannot be underestimated.

“We’d like to congratulate SpaMedica Chelmsford on their award, for what they’ve achieved to date, and importantly, what they are planning to do going forward in this vital journey.”

Melanie Williamson, Chair of the Chelmsford Dementia Friendly Community said: “Congratulations to everyone at SpaMedica who, through their commitment and hard work, has evidenced a real understanding and awareness of dementia. By achieving this recognition, SpaMedica have demonstrated their commitment to improve the experience of people living with dementia, their families and carers in their local Dementia Friendly communities.”

Photo caption: SpaMedica staff with their certificate recognising the hospital’s ‘Working to Become Dementia Friendly’ status, presented by Mark Neville from the Alzheimer’s Society and Melanie Williamson, Chelmsford Dementia Friendly Community.

(L-R Veena Taak, Clinical Governance Lead (South), SpaMedica; Mark Neville, Alzheimer’s Society Dementia Friendly Communities Coordinator and Pan Essex Dementia Friendly Community Co-chair; Melanie Williamson, Chair of the Chelmsford Dementia Friendly Community; Simon Shepherd, Chief Operating Officer, SpaMedica; Nicky Saxton, Healthcare Technician, SpaMedica Chelmsford; Janis Watts, Hospital Manager, SpaMedica Chelmsford; Suzanne Pollard, Area Manager South East, SpaMedica.)