The Chesterfield Royal Hospital has invested in more innovative aids to help care for patients living with Dementia, supported by the Trust’s charity.

One of the Reminiscence Interactive Therapy and Activities system, affectionately known as RITA, was been introduced onto the Royal’s wards in February 2019, again with support from Chesterfield Royal Hospital Charity. The unit is specifically designed to help stimulate the mind of patients affected with a cognitive impairment such as Dementia or Delirium, encourage conversations and reduce falls to help clinical teams deliver effective person centred care.

RITA is an interactive, touchscreen monitor that works alongside a ten inch android tablet that is loaded with a variety of games, quizzes, music, exercises, TV clips and even full length movies. The monitor can be used for group activities and the four new units will be placed on two of our inpatient wards with one unit for the Emergency Department (ED) and another for Palliative Care.

Glyn Wildman (pictured above) is the Matron for the Care of the Older Person, he said: “The units were an absolute success and we’re so grateful for the Charity’s support to be able to bring in more of them. It means that we can extend the scope of patients who will benefit from this resource to make a real difference to how we care for patients who have a diagnosis of Dementia or a similar cognitive impairment.

“We know what it brings to patients on our inpatient wards but in ED it will have an immediate effect on patients who present with a Dementia. It is an incredibly busy and hectic environment that can be confusing for anybody but to a patient with Autism, with sensory impairments, it can cause distress which is where RITA can help. It introduces something familiar to their experience, something calming and reassuring, which creates a different mindset within which our team can deliver their care and treatment.”

Jo Froud (also pictured above) is the Royal’s Macmillan Matron for End of Life Care, she said: “We’re using it to support End of Life care which is a much calmer environment than Emergency Care. For us the emphasis will be on patient experience, for example there is a function to create a memory book, create collages from personal photos that can be uploaded from a memory stick. It is completely person-focused and the relatives can upload everything that is created on there to keep for remembrance.

“It’s about creating a life story and to make what can be a very upsetting and difficult experience more about their life and memories than what is happening to them at that particular moment. It will change the way we approach some patients’ care and will make a huge difference to the way our patients’ families experience it all."

Councillor Jacqui Ridgeway, in her position as Chair of North East Derbyshire District Council, was a keen supporter of the units and fundraised to bring a unit to the Royal. It was considered a huge success which led the hospital Trust helping to fund further units.

Glyn added, “We can upload images of iconic places of local interest or from a certain time period that can spark a memory, such as Matlock Bath in the 1950s or the Chesterfield football team of the 60s. It’s all about providing the content that will spark conversation and interest, engaging the patients and allowing us to tailor therapy to the patient.

“It’s got interactive games, famous and iconic speeches, different musical genres, even karaoke for those who enjoy performing. Families can leave messages for their loved ones, we can create what’s called a ‘life collage’ or story book that can be used to personalise care; all of this is password protected, it’s not linked to any other system or the Internet so is completely self-contained and wiped as soon as the patient is discharged.”

Ken Godber is the Charity Director, he said: “We’re delighted to be able to support this fantastic resource which is exactly what the charity is here for. It’s about going over and above what the Trust should be funding to provide that something extra to support our clinical teams and enhance the patient experience. I’d like to thank all of our fundraisers, in particular Jacqui Ridgeway whose fundraising campaign was instrumental in bringing those to our attention, for all of their help in making this support possible.”