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Adaptations at East Ham Care Centre make it a home from home

17:48 20 May 2014

Dementia patient Minnie Catton explores a sensory garden with activities assistant Margaret Sadiq Photo: David Mirzoeff

Dementia patient Minnie Catton explores a sensory garden with activities assistant Margaret Sadiq Photo: David Mirzoeff

Archant

Elderly care home residents with dementia are being helped to stay engaged and live independently through activities which stimulate and nuture their memories.

Dementia patient Minnie Catton explores a sensory room
Photo: David MirzoeffDementia patient Minnie Catton explores a sensory room Photo: David Mirzoeff

East Ham Care Centre, a residential home for the elderly, has had a major transformation designed to enhance the quality of life of residents suffering the degenerative brain condition.

The completion of the renovation of the three-ward centre in Shrewsbury Road coincides with Dementia Awareness Week, May 19-25, and the recent launch of Dementia Friends, a campaign designed to help people with the condition to continue living independently.

The Department of Health has said dementia is one of the most important issues we face as the population ages. It estimates there are currently 670,000 people with dementia and the numbers are expected to double over the next 30 years.

Dealing with those who suffer with the condition requires not only the right environment, but also the correct approach from the staff who care for them.

Left to right: activities social therapist Theres St.Luce, dementia patient Clara Nicholas and Deputy Director of nursing Eirlys Evans Photo: David MirzoeffLeft to right: activities social therapist Theres St.Luce, dementia patient Clara Nicholas and Deputy Director of nursing Eirlys Evans Photo: David Mirzoeff

The East Ham Care Centre has set about achieving it through the introduction of colourful, fragrant plants and trees in the sensory garden to encourage residents to get involved in planting, growing and pruning.

It also brought much-needed colour and a range of homely touches to personalise surroundings.

Odette Downie, activities manager, said: “When a person comes in to the building, we undertake a life history and that forms the basis for their care. We will work with the family and the client to build activities around them.

“We have a Hindu client who loves to work with young people so we bring in young volunteers to work with her. She also chooses to go to the Christian church service as she likes the social aspect.

Activities and Vollunteer Service Manager Odette Downie
Photo: David MirzoeffActivities and Vollunteer Service Manager Odette Downie Photo: David Mirzoeff

“We have a sensory garden that is full of smells, colour and texture. We have special plants like lavender, roses, jasmine and fruit trees like apple and cherry.

“Our clients are involved in the garden; planting, caring and watering. This is home for many so we encourage them to treat the garden as their own.

“We also re-designed the bedrooms, giving the residents 12 themes to choose from. The families and patients were involved in choosing the themes, colours and pictures.

“As well as a feature wall, there are story walls which are built upon their family life and life stories.

“We spend time with the family to understand the individual’s life history, to create these walls.

“We use them as prompts when chatting to help them connect with memories.

“The centre also has two multi-sensory rooms, one is interactive and designed to stimulate while the other aims to soothe and calm.

Odette said the interactive sensory room encourages movement and provides mental and physical stimulation to help them with their balance and co-ordination.

She said: “The other sensory room is more relaxing and calming and gives people a sense of peace if they are upset.

“We do a lot of activities they would be able to do at home, like going to church, baking groups and other activities they may not have done at home. Like all of us, it’s nice to try new things now and again to have a good quality of life.

“Our staff learn about our client’s life story so they can build on that and find out what they enjoy.”

Jenny Dusoye, ward manager on Sally Sherman Ward, a continuing care ward at East Ham Care Centre, said: “The new design features aim to promote a continuation of the personal lifestyles of our patients, encouraging remembering and a sense of extended family.

“The dementia care environment programme has led to many improvements with better signage, wall art, orientation boards, personalised picture boards in each bedroom, new clocks and calendars, furniture, larger screen TVs, a new seating area for visitors and patients and new flooring. “All rooms have been repainted using soft colours which seem to have a calming effect on our patients. The sensory rooms have been really popular and the garden is a great setting for patients and their families who can register seasonal changes such as spring flowers, autumn leaves and have the pleasure of sitting and simply watching the seasonal cycles we can all relate to.”

Clara Nicholas, 80, a Newham resident for 30 years, is a short stay resident. She said: “Its a very nice garden, very beautiful. The carers are very nice and it is a very beautiful place.”

She also enjoys a church service and takes part in chair-based exercise twice a week.

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