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First dementia-friendly ambulance to launch in the UK

The redesigned ambulances will start serving patients on Monday.

Ian Snug

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Dementia Friendly Ambulance
EMAS

For people with dementia traveling in an ambulance can be a potentially frightening experience.

The UK’s first ‘dementia-friendly’ ambulance was launched by East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) earlier this week.

EMAS work alongside UnityDEM, the University of Northampton’s Dementia Centre, to update four emergency vehicles, making people with dementia feel less frightened or confused when traveling in them.

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The redesigned ambulances will start serving patients throughout Northamptonshire and Leicestershire on Monday.

Responding to around 43,000 emergency calls a year from patients living with a diagnosis of dementia, there are plans for all 104 ambulances across the two counties to be dementia-friendly by the end of October.

‘Subtle adjustments can have a big impact’.

The vehicles include several key changes.

The window nearest the ambulance stretcher – is now covered with a scene that contains key points to talk and reminisce about, including children playing to remind people of their youth and animals for patients to guess what they are.

Music provision – a USB device provided with music in specific decades to allow staff to choose tracks that patients are most likely to have positive reactions/memories to.

‘Twiddlemuffs’ – a knitted hand muff, decorated with internal and external items, such as buttons and ribbons.

This is Me documents – these include information such as what people like to be called, where they grew up, how they take their medication, things they don’t like and can be completed at home by patients and their carers for paramedic crews to refer to during future emergency call outs.

Communication guide for staff – dementia friendly training for all front-line EMAS staff was rolled out from April this year; this guide contains top tips on using the changes in the ambulance to prompt conversations, how to alter their communication style to meet the needs of the patient and things to keep in mind for any patients who may not be able to communicate verbally.

‘A sudden, strange and potentially frightening experience’.

Charlotte Walker, Ambulance Operations Manager and project lead said: “Continuously developing our service to meet the specific needs of our patients is vital and enables the response patients receive across the East Midlands to be of the highest possible standard.”

Professor Jacqui Parkes, the University’s NDRIC lead, said: “Sometimes, it’s not just the big things that make a difference in people’s lives, but more subtle adjustments and tweaks can cumulatively, make a big impact.

“For people with dementia, going into an ambulance can be a sudden, strange and potentially frightening experience, but EMAS have shown with their dementia friendly ambulance – the first of its kind in the UK – that with little adjustments, this can be reduced and lead to a much more positive experience. We look forward to seeing the full fleet in action very soon.”

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Acute Medicine

Hospital visitors and volunteers help to reduce nursing workloads, survey finds

Nurses believe a lack of visitors is often detrimental to a patients’ health and speed of recovery.

Chloe Dawson

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Patient with visitor in hospitla bed

Two in five hospital patients get no visitors and require additional support from the nursing team.

Nurses working in acute hospitals feel that patients without visitors require additional support from the nursing team, according to a survey by the Royal Voluntary Service (RVS).

The survey also revealed that nurses believe a lack of visitors is often detrimental to a patients’ health and speed of recovery in a number of ways. These include; they are less likely to be mobile (43%), less likely to be stimulated through conversation (56%) and less likely to follow medical advice.

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It is also estimated that around 37% are more likely to have a longer stay in hospital.

The RVS states that volunteers can step in and play a “vital role” in helping to reduce the nursing workload and freeing up staff for clinical care.

Over half of the NHS nurses questioned said a volunteer presence on ward was very important and that volunteers could help with patient care in a variety of ways. In particular, they referenced; providing non-medical support and assisting at mealtimes.

Double the number of volunteers in the next ten years.

Previous research published in a Kings Fund report also found strong support for volunteering among frontline staff.

With approximately 40,000 unfilled nursing vacancies throughout the NHS in England, volunteers are becoming more important to ensure patient receive care in a timely manner.

Following the NHS Long Term plan asking hospitals to double their volunteers in the next ten years and the recognition of the help they can provide by the NHS nursing team, RVS is calling on more hospitals to make the most of volunteers to improve patient health.

Sam Ward, Director of Commissioned Services for the RVS, said; “With results showing two-fifths of patients may not see a visitor during their hospital stay, it is clear that more is needed to be done to support them.

“Volunteers offer a professional support service, encouraging mental stimulation, physical activity, and more that can play a significant role in both mental and physical recovery.

“It is vital that hospitals work together with volunteer service providers to make sure that patients across the country are able to access this support.”

 

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Acute Medicine

‘Harmful’ prescription charges for asthma medication should be scrapped, warn nurses

The majority of nurses want ‘harmful’ prescription charges for people with asthma to be scrapped.

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Asthma Medication Inhaler Nebuliser

Patients are at risk of life-threatening asthma attacks simply because they can’t afford their medication.

Hundreds of nurses called for ‘harmful’ prescription costs for people with asthma to be scrapped after seeing patients have an asthma attack or need emergency treatment because of the high cost of prescriptions.

A report published today by Asthma UK in collaboration with The Royal College of Nursing and Association of Respiratory Nurse Specialists, includes findings from a survey of more than 600 nurses in the UK as well as 150 other healthcare professionals including doctors, pharmacists, and paramedics.

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The research highlights the harmful impact prescription charges are having on people with asthma, putting them at risk of life-threatening asthma attacks because they can’t afford their medication.

Nurses reported patients borrowing inhalers from their friends, relatives or even their own children because they couldn’t afford to buy their own – putting them at risk of taking the wrong medication, or the wrong dose.

‘An outdated and unfair policy’.

One healthcare professional told Asthma UK that she had found the money herself to pay for her patient’s prescription because she was worried about them being unable to afford their life-saving medication.

A majority of nurses surveyed (92%) want ‘harmful’ prescription charges for people with asthma to be scrapped.

Samantha Walker, Director of Research and Policy at Asthma UK and a qualified nurse, said:“It’s really worrying that nurses who are working so hard to help their patients stay well are seeing people with asthma suffer because of an outdated and unfair policy. It is high time the Government took action and urgently reviewed asthma prescription charges so that people with asthma aren’t put at risk of avoidable but potentially life-threatening asthma attacks. No one should have to pay to breathe.”

‘Only making their condition worse’.

Wendy Preston, Head of Nursing Practice at the Royal College of Nursing said: “It cannot be acceptable that some people with long-term conditions are missing out on their vital medication because they cannot afford it.

“Nurses see the impact of this every day of the week and know what happens when people do not take their vital medication.

“This will only make their condition worse and they will end up needing further treatment adding additional pressure the health and care system.

“It is time that there is equity with other long-term conditions such as diabetes where prescription charges are exempt.”

Asthma UK is urging people with asthma, nurses and other healthcare professionals to join its Stop Unfair Asthma Prescription Charges campaign and sign its petition to end prescription charges.

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