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Westmorland General staff win national award for memory box initiative

The 2017 Fab Awards ceremony was held in London on 23 November

[S]taff from University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust (UHMBT) have won the ‘4 Candles Award’ from The Academy of Fabulous Stuff for their memory box initiative to help improve engagement with Dementia patients.

Trish Holladay, Surgical Inpatient Unit Ward Manager, and her team on Ward 6 at Westmorland General Hospital, trialled shop bought boxes but found that some patients did not respond well to them as the contents were unfamiliar.

This prompted them to design empty boxes and work with patient’s families and friends to fill them with personal items such as old photos, lavender soap, knitting, toys and postcards. The team found that not only did patient engagement dramatically improve, but families also felt more involved with their loved ones’ care.

Trish said: “The idea is that the things inside the box are personal to the patients so that when you get them out and talk through them, you can find out a bit more about your patient because it is something that will interest them and encourage them to engage with you.”

“We have found the boxes useful to distract anxious patients as they can sometimes remember things from the past easier than things from the present day. It has also helped our younger staff members to interact with these patients more easily.”

The 4 Candles Award was named after a scene in the first broadcast of ‘The 2 Ronnie’s’ sketch show, with nominees required to demonstrate their ability to listen and respond to feedback.

Dianne Smith, UHMBT Dementia Matron, said: “The staff on ward 6 have shown a strong ability to listen to the feedback they get from patients and families, and use it to improve their work. The new memory boxes have really helped patients on the ward to feel more comfortable and calm during
their stay and means that they can spend real quality time with their families during visits.”

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