Replica bus stop helps dementia patients in Sunderland

Sunderland Royal Nusring staff with the replica bus stop in the hospital
11 September 2019

A replica bus stop in Sunderland Royal Hospital’s Emergency Department is helping to calm and reassure patients with dementia.

Supplied by Nexus and complete with a bus stop sign and a current timetable of local routes, it is situated in a quiet room where they can sit and reminisce. Research has shown that reminiscence therapy can help patients with dementia to feel less stressed and anxious and more contented and positive.

Michelle Carfoot, junior sister and dementia link in the Emergency Department at Sunderland Royal, said: “Coming in to the department can be a stressful experience for anyone but especially for our patients with dementia who can become quite upset. For many of them, bus travel has been very much a part of their lives and the bus stop is a familiar sight and, therefore, reassuring to them. It is also in a calm area - away from the clinical hustle and bustle - where they can talk in comfort with their family and carers, as well as with staff. We’re extremely grateful to Nexus who have been very kind and supportive.”

Nexus has agreed to provide more free bus stops for the Rehabilitation and Elderly Medicine wards at Sunderland Royal Hospital.

Customer Information Manager Michael Lennon said:  “We’re honoured to support Sunderland Royal Hospital by donating the bus stop. Hospitals can be confusing places while a bus stop is such a familiar type of landmark, which can be reassuring for patients with dementia. It can also be a great memory aid and we hope that it will be of great benefit for the patients and for the hospital staff providing them with care.”

The initiative is part of ongoing work, guided by the Delirium and Dementia Outreach Team, to make the hospital more dementia-friendly. ‘Therapy trolleys’ are already available in the Emergency Department and on the Dementia and Delirium ward. These offer items for relaxation, ranging from CDs, magazines and newspapers to books on local history and ‘twiddle mitts’ - knitted or crocheted bands with items attached with which patients can twiddle to reduce anxiety and which provide stimulation. There are also plans to make two of the clinical side rooms in the Emergency Department more dementia-friendly by painting them in colours which are known to aid relaxation and ease stress and anxiety and by introducing comfortable recliner chairs. 

Claire Boylan, Elder Life Specialist Practitioner with the Delirium and Dementia Outreach Team, said: “If a patient with cognitive issues becomes distressed or unsettled, familiar items and equipment, such as those on the therapy trolley and the bus stop, can provide a distraction and have a very positive effect for our patient group.” 

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