WIRRAL’S dementia sufferers will be able to relive their younger days over afternoon tea thanks to staff at Arrowe Park Hospital.
The newly-opened “Memories” cafe will give patients the chance to share their experiences in an informal setting, surrounded by classic board games and sights and sounds from days gone by.
Matron Margaret Davies, from Arrowe Park's Older People’s Ward, said the opening of the cafe on Thursday was especially poignant as it celebrated Dementia Awareness Week, which runs until May 24.
“The aim is to bring patients and their carers to the memory cafe so that they’re able to have a social side being in hospital,” said Ms Davies.
“Sometimes our patients can become quite distracted and distressed at having to be on an acute ward so what we’re trying to do is see a patient in as normal an environment as possible to see how well they can cope with interacting with other people.”
The hospital is already home to a “memories pub” and the idea of creating a cafe came when Margaret attended a conference six months ago.
She explained: “I thought it would be a nice idea for our hospital to have one -there aren’t many about in acute hospitals as they’re usually in garden centres and other places where cafes already are.”
As well as giving dementia patients a sense of being at home, the memory cafe will also act as an activity room.
Ms Davies added: “The idea is to bring patients with dementia and their carers together.
“We’ll have a memory cafe once a week but it can sometimes get very boring for patients on the ward so for the rest of the time it will be an activity room that patients can come into, they can play the games, have a cup of tea and watch the old television reels.”
Wirral University Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust has teamed up with the Alzheimer’s Society and Cheshire and Wirral Partnership (CWP) to carry out the memories project.
Hannah Rapley, from the Alzheimer’s Society, said: “When you’re in the memory cafe you don’t feel like you are on the ward at all – it’s a completely different environment.
“It’s nice for relatives who usually visit someone at their bedside which sometimes isn’t the ideal situation.”
Dementia Specialist Nurse Anne-Marrie Kelly, from CWP added: “It’s part of the rehabilitation process and it’s about the transition between hospital and home.
“Hospitals can be a frightening place for them and this is a nice reassurance for them, it’s somewhere where they can reminisce and go back to the past.”
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