On 13 May, the Trust held the official opening of the newly
refurbished outpatients department at Darlington Memorial
There are currently around 6,000 people
living with dementia in County Durham and Darlington. In 2013, as
part of on-going attempts to tackle dementia, the Government
pledged £3.9m to care homes and hospitals in the North East to make
environments more accessible for those living with the condition.
Of this, County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust (CDDFT)
was allocated a total of £1,034,090 - the largest investment in the
Bill Headley, Director of Estates and
Facilities at the Trust, explained how the outpatient department
has changed throughout the remodel: "We recognise that there is a
growing need for dementia-friendly environments up and down the
country, as we're growing older and living longer than we ever have
done. Before the department was refurbished, it was a really large
area which was decorated in a similar colour palette throughout. To
you or I, this might look quite neat and tidy, but we know that
people with dementia have difficulty distinguishing between doors
and walls, particularly if they are both the same, flat colour. We
understand that this can result in an area that can be really
disorientating and confusing.
"We've worked closely with the Alzheimer's
Society and expert patients to ensure that the newly refurbished
area will be as clear and straightforward as possible for all
service users. Elderly people and those with dementia often look
down or straight ahead, so having signage above doorways and
hanging from the ceiling as we did in the past means they could
easily be missed. Now we've moved the signs to eye level, we have a
much better chance of anyone using the facilities to see them.
We've also adjusted the colour of the signs as well as the font
size to ensure they are easy to read."
Dementia-friendly colour schemes have been
incorporated throughout the unit to help users distinguish between
the different areas. The medical outpatients department has a
woodland theme, decorated in browns and greens and featuring images
of trees and leaves. By contrast the dental area has a blue colour
scheme and seascape imagery.
Jenny Leeming, a Dementia Support Worker from
the Alzheimer's Society, said: "We've really enjoyed working
alongside the Trust to create this dementia-friendly outpatient
department to help improve the lives of those living with dementia
in our community.
"Many of the simple, practical things
demonstrated in this project make a huge difference to people with
dementia and their carers. But it's not just the visible
things; the awareness and understanding of the hospital staff also
makes a huge difference which is vital to support people living
"We hope that patients using the service will
find it clearer and easier to navigate, and that staff will enjoy
continuing to provide the highest possible standards of care in
their new environment."
Watch our short video about the transformation of the