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Health Secretary marks hospital’s Dementia Friendly award

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt and Suella Fernandes MP unveil a plaque after the hospital achieved Dementia Friendly status.

by Alex Cameron

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has unveiled a plaque to mark the award of Dementia Friendly status to a community hospital in Hampshire.

At a visit to Fareham Community Hospital on Friday (12 February) Mr Hunt also met volunteers and the NHS team involved in the project. Mr Hunt was invited to the hospital by Fareham MP Suella Fernandes, who leads a local taskforce supporting the hospital’s usage.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt and Suella Fernandes MP tour Fareham Community Hospital, accompanied by Rachael Samain, centre, of NHS Property Services

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt and Suella Fernandes MP tour Fareham Community Hospital, accompanied by Rachael Samain (centre) of NHS Property Services

Dementia Friendly status recognises that the hospital is specially geared to the needs of people with dementia.

NHS organisations and volunteers teamed up to make the state-of-the-art hospital easier to use and navigate for dementia patients by making a series of minor changes to the building and its facilities.

The hospital is the first in the Fareham and Gosport Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) area to achieve Dementia Friendly status, which is awarded by the Alzheimer’s Society.

The CCG has funded a weekly Memory Group to allow dementia patients and their carers to meet informally and have a cuppa in the relaxed surroundings of the hospital.

This successful and informal drop-in session is run jointly by Alzheimer’s Society Volunteers and Friends of Fareham Community Hospital volunteers.

Sue Clarke, of Fareham and Gosport and South Eastern Hampshire Clinical Commissioning Groups, who chaired the project steering group, said: “We know patients appreciate the services offered and it’s very pleasing to know that the environment has been improved with their needs in mind.

“We would like to thank all our partners who were united in their support of this project, including the Friends of Fareham Community Hospital, the Alzheimer’s Society, Solent Community Solutions and NHS Property Services. Everyone was so willing and ready to support the process with such a can-do approach.”

Modifications to the hospital included altering areas such as signage, wayfinding, texture, colour and design considerations. For example, bathroom furniture was changed to provide colour contrasts, to avoid visual disturbance for patients. Opportunities to make further improvements when facilities need replacing were also identified for areas such as flooring, where existing materials can be confusing and disorientating.

Training and awareness for staff, volunteers and contractors was also crucial to ensure the needs of patients are recognised and catered for.

The implementation project was led by Rachael Samain, a Service Delivery Manager for NHS Property Services, which manages the site on behalf owners Solent Community Solutions and Community Health Partnerships (CHP), which has the head lease.

Fareham Community Hospital

Fareham Community Hospital

Rachael said: “It’s great to know that this wonderful facility is now even easier for people with dementia to access – everyone involved in the project is really proud of achieving Dementia Friendly status.”

The award was made by officials from Hampshire Dementia Action Alliance.

Stephen Kirby of The Friends of Fareham Community Hospital said: “Being a part of the group that was involved in achieving Dementia Friendly status, plus continuing to support the weekly Memory Group, is an example of how the Friends organisation works with the hospital.”

Fareham Community Hospital was opened in May 2010. The £10.5million development brings together a wide range of community health services from various locations within the Borough of Fareham.