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NHS hospitals throughout England are decorating their wards, rooms and corridors in 1940s and 1950s styles for dementia patients, creating a calming, familiar environment which can encourage memories and reduce anxiety and distress.

With ageing well and caring for people with dementia both key priorities in the NHS Long Term Plan, hospitals across the country have revamped their dementia ward decor, with innovations ranging from a ‘memories pub’ to 1950s style ‘reminiscence rooms’ and a cinema booth where patients can watch old films.

Welcoming the innovations, Alistair Burns, a national clinical director for dementia and older people’s mental health for NHS England and NHS Improvement, said: “Hospital can be a frightening place for many people but can prove a bigger challenge for people with dementia who might feel more confused and agitated in an unfamiliar environment. Having a dementia-friendly place to stay may help these patients adjust better to their surroundings, lessen the likelihood of falls and reduce their reliance on medicine.

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“With the NHS diagnosing a record number of older people with dementia this year, it’s more important than ever that patients get the right support and care – as outlined in the NHS Long Term Plan – and these hospitals are making simple but hugely effective adjustments which can have enormous benefits to patients.”

Hospitals are also ensuring proper contrast between walls and flooring as well as colour coding in patient bays and toilets to prevent confusion and distress amongst dementia patients.

Emma Bould, Programme Partnership Manager at Alzheimer’s Society, commented: “We know that staying in hospital can be quite a stressful experience, especially for a person with dementia who may be more easily disorientated or confused.

“By making dementia-friendly adaptions to a hospital setting and creating familiar environments from the past, hospitals can be transformed into spaces that will give people with dementia a sense of independence, reduce anxiety and improve both mental and physical health.”

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