As we have established, the RUH has made great progress in the improved delivery of patient care. This has been, in some instances with statutory and charitable funding, others, such as Combe Ward, with a Department of Health grant. The hospital site is a real mix of buildings ranging from the old and dilapidated to the pristine and modern. This causes disparity in the level of care that can be provided.

The ACE Older Peoples Unit  is located in what was originally an old Nightingale ward, which has been subdivided into bays. Each bay has two beds either side of the main central walk through offering a noisy environment with little or no privacy for the patients. Any patients located near the ward work station have an even noisier bed space, due to the activity of the staff. These patients need monitoring more closely as they are likely to be the most unwell and probably would benefit in being located in more calm surroundings.

The new design will create an improved work flow providing a more practical and efficient method of working, whilst giving the patients and much better environment for their care. Good use of space and light will give a more positive ambience to the ward.

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What is required to achieve this?

The RUH management has agreed to replace the windows and undertake the basic refurbishment of the ward from their 2015/16 Capital Budget.

This will include redesigning the layout, moving walls, demolishing old storage cupboards, upgrading the sluice and kitchen and decorating the entire ward in different colours to differentiate the areas, which is highly beneficial for confused patients.

What we require to make it a first class area is the upgrading of some medical equipment, a purpose designed computer system to eliminate the cumbersome and not very discreet white board, Comfortable suitable chairs for patients and the all-important lockers for their possessions are another need, which is being addressed by The Friends of the RUH.

Computerised dementia clocks are also on the list as confused and demented patients often are unable to recognise night from day. Their circadian rhythm can also be impaired. These clocks, shown on large monitors, have proved highly successful in other areas of the hospital – giving patients a clearer perspective time, day of the week and whether it is morning, afternoon, evening or night.

These have proved to be extremely useful in our Older Persons Unit where a high proportion of our older patients with dementia are treated.
One female patient was notorious for waking at night and becoming quite fractious, but once the clock was fitted and she realised that it was night-time she would happily return to her bed and sleep! The staff had much quieter nights after that!!

Also, for those with poor eyesight or memory loss, signage for the bathroom, toilet, their bed etc., really improves their orientation. It may seem a very basic requirement, but again for older patients pictures are often easier to recognise than words.

HealWell Lighting

Very distressed patients, often those with dementia or confused as a result of an infection, can find artificial light stimulates hostile tendencies which can manifest into anger or even aggression. The natural power of light can reduce these tendencies. In healthy people cortisol levels are triggered by morning light and decrease throughout the course of the day.

HealWell lighting is an intelligent lighting system that automatically manages a rhythm of dynamic daylight as well as allowing patients and staff to control setting individually. Already used in one room in Combe Ward, this system has proved a very valuable resource and we would like to replicate it in this project.

It is an expensive system that is beyond the budget of statutory funding – but the benefits are such that if funded would be a tremendous asset for patients.

Funding wishlist

  • Purpose designed programme for Multidisciplinary Team Meeting Plus computer, monitor etc. (£62,250)
  • 5 Cardiac monitors (£10,000)
  • 6 Dementia Clocks (£6,000)
  • Specialised signage (£500)
  • 5 Blood pressure monitors (£10,000)
  • Healwell lighting (£40,000)

For further information about the Older Peoples Fund and our current priorities please get in touch