Dementia friendly ambulances hit the road in Southend

Two new ambulances have been given a revamp to help make them more dementia friendly for patients.

The ambulances, which have only just gone on the road, have had images of Southend seafront and the beach huts in Chalkwell added to their windows. This is to help make them less clinical looking and be more inviting.

This is a joint project between Southend University Hospital and the East of England Ambulance Service (EEAST).

Ambulance crews will also carry individual patient resource packs.which include knitted twiddle muffs and twiddle blankets, giving dementia patients something to do with their hands and help stop agitation. There is also a CD player with a range of calming music.

And they are already proving to be a huge hit. On the first day on the road one of the ambulances picked up a dementia patient from a care home. The use of music helped to calm them during their journey.

Sarah Ecclestone, senior sister in the Emergency Department at Southend University Hospital, said: “It’s such a simple idea, but will make such a big difference to dementia patients. We already have these on the wards, they make a huge positive impact on patients.

“This is just extending that on the road. The inside of the ambulances are also more welcoming for children and patients with learning difficulties.”

Laura Spears, Assistant General Manager for EEAST in South Essex, said: “This is a really exciting project and we are hoping that it makes a big difference for many of our patients in the community. We are looking forward to hearing some of the feedback over the coming weeks.

“The dementia ambulance was a joint initiative with the hospital and we are already considering the possibility of launching something similar in other areas, if we can fundraise in conjunction with local trusts.”

The images used inside the ambulance were taken by Chris Eastty from Leigh-on-Sea, an emergency department flow coordinator at Southend University Hospital.

The images were installed by Radwraps and the project was funded by the dementia fund at Southend Hospital Charity.


Mick Ferris

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