Dementia landmark

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THE borough’s hospice has unveiled ambitious plans to transform its in-patient unit to make the facilities more dementia friendly.

Wigan and Leigh Hospice (WLH) wants to make the 14-bed unit at its Hindley headquarters easier to navigate for people suffering from the devastating memory-loss condition.

Although final details of the redevelopment are yet to be announced, WLH said it is looking into colour-coding the corridors to make it easier for people to find their way around, improving the signs and using art work as landmarks so visitors know where they are.

The Hindley-based hospice is also hoping to work with the borough’s network of organisations and charities providing support for dementia sufferers and their families through schemes such as Wigan Council’s Dementia Friendly Communities.

WLH director of corporate services Mike Parr said: “We are starting to see an increase in the number of patients and visitors who suffer from one form of dementia or another, and we are conscious that will increase.

“The in-patient unit is 17 years old and was created with the needs of that time in mind. We now have different needs to cater for and we want to make it as suitable for people with dementia as possible.

“There’s a very active dementia support network in the borough and we’re also keen to tap into that expertise.

“We believe creating a dementia-friendly unit ties in with our underlying aim to provide high-quality patient care and we want to continue improving people’s experiences.”

WLH is also in discussion with environmental regeneration charity Groundwork about extending any potential colour-coding schemes to the hospice’s outdoor area with appropriate plants.

The dementia-friendly unit is the first in a series of proposed changes the hospice is looking to make to its Kildare Street headquarters, with future plans including opening another overnight room for families travelling long distances to visit loved ones, building a new patients’ entrance away from the main reception area and creating a social room with a small cafe serving refreshments and snacks.

WLH has also been looking at how other hospices around the North West have altered their facilities to help dementia sufferers.

Mr Parr said: “We’re not the first hospice to tackle this and we’ve seen some really good ideas from how others have developed their in-patient units.

“We want to bring in local art and photography as Trinity Hospice in Blackpool does this really well with pictures of local landmarks. We want to have artworks people can relate to and which start conversations, such as scenes of Wigan.”

The hospice is also calling on Wiganers to get involved in making the dementia-friendly unit a reality and will launch a new fund-raising campaign backed by the Wigan Evening Post next week to coincide with National Hospice Care Week.