A new digital app to help create more dementia-friendly environments and support patients is set to be developed and tested in North Wales.
Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board is working with experts from the University of Worcester to create the app, which will replace the current paper-based assessment tool used to assess how dementia-friendly care environments are.
The project is due to start in October and will initially involve staff from 12 wards from our acute and community hospitals and mental health wards in North Wales. Once ready, the app will be made available globally to make it easier for staff to assess and improve care environments and improve the lives of people with dementia.
Sarah Waller CBE, Associate Specialist from the Association for Dementia Studies at the University of Worcester, previously led the development of the King’s Fund Enhancing the Healing Environment (EHE) programme, which encouraged and enabled nurse-led teams to work in partnership with patients to improve the environment in which they deliver care.
Sarah said: “There is now growing evidence that dementia friendly design can promote inclusion, independence and quality of life for people living with dementia. We know that the results of assessments using the tools have led to improvements in the care environment for people living with dementia, their relatives and the staff that care for them.
“We are grateful to the Health Board for funding this project and look forward to working with them on this development which will make the tools more accessible and easier to use”.
Staff from BCUHB will work with developers to create the app and compare paper-based and digital assessments before rolling the pilot out to more wards across North Wales. The tool will then be finalised to allow assessments to be carried out in hospitals, care homes, supported housing, health centres and gardens.
Kelly Arnold, Mental Health and Learning Disabilities Quality and Practice Development Nurse at BCUHB, said: “This project is a great opportunity to involve staff, patients, students and others in seeing what works in their areas and taking steps to address any improvements needed.
“The process will also be a valuable learning opportunity and raise awareness of how even small improvements to the environment can affect patients with dementia positively.”
Professor Tracey Williamson, Consultant Nurse for Dementia at BCUHB, said “We are very grateful support of the Mental Health and Learning Disabilities Division with this project, which further helps our work to enhance the care of our patients who have dementia across the Health Board. Furthermore, it will support our ambitions to embrace digital technology where it can support staff, resulting in improved patient experience.”