Sheffield Hospitals Charity are proud to be playing a leading role in enabling Sheffield Teaching Hospitals to become more dementia friendly. Part of the money raised from our Dementia Appeal, launched in 2020, has funded Specialist Dementia Practitioner roles who work within our hospitals to develop new initiatives to improve the hospital environment for people living with dementia.

Going into an unfamiliar place, like a hospital, can be frightening and confusing for people with dementia and cause their symptoms to get worse. As part of their roles the practitioners have developed a set of resources to be used by staff with dementia patients to improve interaction and encourage conversation.

Mariah Hussain, Occupational Therapy Student, has just completed a 9-week placement on ward Brierley 7 at the Northern General Hospital. Every Tuesday afternoon Mariah dedicated time to trial these resources with patients. She explained how the resources really enabled her to get to know patients better and helped to alleviate their anxieties around being in hospital. They provided discussion points and truly made patients open up about their past and happily reminisce. Using activities to positively occupy their time is beneficial to helping with a patient’s recovery.

One of the resources is called ‘Potted Histories’, this includes a selection of images which show memorable landmarks and moments in history that the patients are likely to remember such as ‘The Hole in the Road’ in Sheffield.

Mariah described how the patients had personal memories relating to the images which really helped to initiate conversation by sharing stories and bring comfort reflecting on a familiar time. This is especially key for patients who are withdrawn and particularly difficult to interact with.

Out of all the time I spent with patients on wards during my placement, my dedicated time using the dementia resources has been without a doubt the most rewarding. I feel it is important to go that extra mile for those in our care.

Mariah Hussain, Occupational Therapy Student

Dementia can affect each sufferer differently, so the resources and activities are designed to cater to a variety of different needs.

Other funded items include Dementia dolls, dementia friendly clocks and activity cabinets which are all designed to make a dementia patients stay in hospital as comfortable as can be.

If you'd like to support our ongoing work on the Dementia Appeal, you can find out more and donate here -