Wigan's hospital trust launches innovative project to help patients living with dementia

A Wigan hospital worker has been inspired by her own experiences to develop an innovative project to improve communication for patients with dementia.
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Kellie Baldwin, a deputy team leader operating department practitioner at Wigan Infirmary, has created the Living with Dementia Theatre Passport for use within the theatre department.

She wanted to make a difference to patients who have the disease, as well as their relatives – something which means a great deal to her, both personally and professionally.

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Kellie said: “I am a carer for my mum, who has vascular dementia.

Kellie Baldwin, left and Mark Oakley by the Dementia Passport board in TheatresKellie Baldwin, left and Mark Oakley by the Dementia Passport board in Theatres
Kellie Baldwin, left and Mark Oakley by the Dementia Passport board in Theatres
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"My dad has Alzheimer’s and my aunty, who also has vascular dementia, has sadly now had to go into full-time care, so dementia care is something that is very close to my heart.

“I wanted to improve communication for patients with dementia that arrive in our theatres for surgical intervention, so came up with the Living with Dementia Theatre Passport.”

The Dementia Theatre Passport is a short, A5-size document that patients and relatives can fill in on the day of their surgery to highlight to staff important information, such as the patient’s preferred name, who will be supporting them, what makes them feel anxious and what makes them feel calm.

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There are colourful and engaging images to help patients communicate their emotions, if they are in pain, or if they are too hot or too cold.

It will be used to support patients through their surgical journey, as well as provide reassurance to carers.

Kellie said: “When working in anaesthetics in theatre, you are the first point of contact for patients who arrive.

“I became aware of patients with dementia who were arriving with very little information with them, and I really felt for them.

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"These are somebody’s loved one and, speaking as a carer, I would want to know that my family member is given high quality care when in hospital.

"Equally, as professionals, we are the patients’ voice and they are vulnerable, so I want to be able to provide care to patients as though they were my own relatives.”

From the initial pilot test of the Living with Dementia Theatre Passport, Kellie has received positive feedback from staff, families and patients, and presented the project at the hospital trust’s Dementia Day conference.

She said: “I collected a patient for theatre from our emergency department and the passport had already been completed by their relative.

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"On arrival to theatre, the anaesthetic practitioner read the passport and as the patient started to become distressed in the anaesthetic room, the passport illustrated that holding the patient’s hand would calm them.

"The anaesthetic practitioner did this and it really helped the patient and members of the team.”

Admiral dementia nurse Mark Oakley, who is the lead for dementia care at the trust, said: “The families I have spoken to feel this is a really great innovation in caring for their relatives.

"It is such a small piece of information, but it has had such a positive impact on patient care.”

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