A hospital in Wrexham has appointed a new dementia champion.
Spire Yale private hospital has made Emma Aplin its Dementia Lead at the head of a team set up to ensure anyone with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia has their problem recognised.
Emma, from Morda, near Oswestry, is an operating department practitioner in the hospital’s operating theatres which carry out over 2,200 operations a year.
Her job is to support patients and the surgical team from the pre-operative phase through to recovery but now she has also taken on an extra role in leading the support they give to patients with dementia.
The mother of two said: “We have a real commitment to all our patients here and that has led us to put a dementia pathway in place so that not only can we help people suffering with dementia but we can also pick up undiagnosed cases.
“We wanted to put something in place to make sure we could tell if someone has dementia and we offer this to anyone over the age of 80 if they want it.
“It’s definitely something that’s on the increase. Last year we had two cases of people with dementia and already this year we have had six or seven and it’s important to be able to recognise it.
“If they’re in the hospital then we want them to have the best treatment possible and we don’t want to miss anything.
“Those early signs and symptoms can be easy to miss but our tests will pick them up and it means we can inform their GP and they can get treatment to delay the onset of the disease.”
Emma, who is also a qualified counsellor, began as the hospital’s dementia champion and she now heads a team of 18 ‘champions’ across all departments as Spire Yale extends its capability in dealing with the problem.
She has done the Level Two course in dementia care and the hospital keeps its team up to speed with lectures and training and offers patients, particularly those with more advanced dementia, a wristband to wear so staff are aware of their needs.
Each can also have a This Is Me form which is bilingual and which includes details about hobbies and interests as well as their routines such as sleeping and eating patterns.
Emma added: “There are lots of little things which people with dementia can find daunting and we need to be able to understand and appreciate them.
“Circles in a carpet pattern can appear to them as holes which is unnerving for them so we don’t have that pattern of carpets and being out of their comfort zone can also cause distress.
“We need to know what reassures them and makes them comfortable and that can mean something as simple as having a cup of tea or a nap at certain times because routines are important to them.
“If they are here in the hospital they are likely to be a bit stressed because they’re out of their usual environment so we make sure they have one to one care and that we know the things they like.”
Hospital Director Sue Jones said: “Spire Yale is committed to providing the best possible care for all its patients and there is an increasing incidence of dementia as the population ages and it’s important that we are prepared for that.
“Emma has been the ideal person to lead the introduction of our specialised dementia pathway and we have great support from the rest of the staff as is shown by the number of dementia champions we now have.
“Not only is it important to be able to cater for those with diagnosed cases of dementia but if we are able to pick up previously undiagnosed cases then treatments can be put in place to help people delay and cope with the disease.”