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Important changes underway

We’ve embarked upon a major programme of works to make our wards more dementia friendly.

Stress can lead to challenging behaviour, so less distress means we can plan for home earlier.  Appley and Colwell wards have already been colour coded with contrasting detail to make it easier for our patients to move around. Doors to each patient area match the colour of their bays (green doors for ‘green bay’), with toilet and washroom doors are all bright yellow in colour. This paint scheme is now being rolled out across all our acute wards.

The refurbishment will also see additional handrails installed where necessary, contrasting coloured toilet seats will replace white ones, and specially designed dementia mirrors will be installed.  New yellow faced clocks have been delivered to wards so that patients in every bay and side room can see a clock. New orientation boards have been designed and are being installed which tell patients where they are, the day and date, who is looking after them and what the weather is like outside.

Why is this important?

It is important to make the toilet or bathroom a safe and easy place for a person with dementia to use. The right design can help a person with dementia to maintain their independence and dignity over personal care.

Dementia mirrors: Often people with dementia forget that they are aging and can be shocked by the reflection they see in the mirror.  They can become distressed or convinced there is a stranger in the room with them.  The special dementia mirrors can be flipped over to hide the mirror and replace it with a calming image.

Toilet seats: When there is a white toilet seat on a white toilet, it can be difficult for patients to differentiate and see exactly where the toilet it.  Contrasting toilet seats help alleviate this issue and patients can be confident enough to toilet themselves, maintaining their privacy and dignity

Signage: Additional signage is being introduced, including directional signage from the bays to the toilets, “hot” and “cold” notices alongside the taps to make it clear which side to use on mixer taps

It’s not just the bathrooms that we’re upgrading

Clocks:  Whether it is looking at your phone, a watch or the clock on the wall, we all check the time. Having this ability helps us organise our day. The clocks we have chosen are 24 hour clocks to help our patients distinguish between night and day.

As dementia progresses, routine and structure is made more imperative to everyday life. Without these time-telling skills, we can quickly become disorientated, anxious and confused.

We have purchased large yellow faced clocks for every bay and side room across our acute and mental health wards.  A yellow background makes the clock face easier to see for people with poor eyesight, and dementia patients in particular can lose track of time very easily.

Orientation boards: We have designed orientation boards for every bay and side room in the acute hospital.  They will each tell the patient that they are in St Mary’s hospital, which ward they are in, the day of the week, date, month and year, who their nurses are today and what the weather is like outside.  The weather symbols are those used by the met office so will be familiar to the patients.

Information for friends and family

There are lots of things you can do to help when a friend or family member with dementia comes into hospital.


We prefer to see our patients out of bed and dressed, so that life is as normal for them as possible.  Please ensure you bring in clean clothes for your loved ones so that we can get them up and dressed.  They will also benefit from well fitting footwear and their own toiletries

This is me

We know that everyone is different - please let us know how best to care for your family member. Share as much as you can about what helps them, what makes things worse, and tell us about them as a person.  The “This is me” booklet is invaluable to our staff when caring for our patients.  It tells us a patient’s likes and dislikes, and can provide vital information for us at a glance if a patient becomes distressed.  This booklet will be completed shortly after admission and will go with the patient if they are moved to another ward; it also goes home with them when they are discharged.  If your loved one comes home with one, please keep it safely and send it back into hospital with them if they are ever readmitted. It really is a great source of information for us.

Familiar things

To keep our patients happy, we would encourage you to bring in photographs or anything that your loved one enjoys such as a book, crossword puzzle, knitting etc.  Photographs can help us start up a conversation with our patients and they frequently enjoy telling us about their family or they may remember the event where the photograph was taken.  Most things that bring familiarity are welcome; please check with the nurse in charge if you want to bring something in that you may not be sure is permitted.

Meal times

Under normal circumstances we would welcome you in at mealtimes to help your loved one with their meal if they struggle to eat independently.  Due to the current restrictions this is not possible, but we hope to be able to reintroduce this as soon as we can.

Legal matters

Please let us know if you have a lasting power of attorney or 'do not resuscitate' order in place. Please bring in the whole original document so we can take a copy for your loved one’s notes, and act on their wishes.


We use a butterfly symbol to help us identify a patient with dementia


We welcome your feedback and encourage you to fill in the friends and family questionnaire, or the postcard that can be given to you by one of our Associate Practitioners.

If you have any concerns, please speak to the nurse in charge so that we can address it promptly.


We are always looking at ways to improve our environment for our patients living with dementia, and providing those ‘extra touches’ that are not funded as part of normal NHS care.  If you would like to become involved and raise funds for us, please contact Mandy Blackler, Business and Operations Manager for Corporate Nursing on 01983 822099 extn 3052 or email

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