By Hugh Masters, Policy Consultant, Alzheimer Scotland
Going into hospital can be a worrying time for anyone. If you have dementia, you may be particularly worried and anxious about staying in an unfamiliar place. You may also be unsure about what will happen during your hospital stay. The following information is designed to help answer some of the questions you may have about preparing to come into hospital and about what to expect during your stay:
1. What do I need to bring into hospital with me?
The hospital will send you information about what you need to bring with you:
- Power of Attorney Certificate (if you have this in place)
- Your medications
- Comfortable clothing and nightwear
- Hearing aids or spectacles (it’s helpful to label your spectacles with your name or initials and what you use them for i.e. reading or distance)
- Small familiar items that will help you to feel settled
- A small clock and calendar to help you keep track of the date and time.
It is very helpful for staff to have written information about the things that are important to you. If you have a completed Getting to Know Me document please bring this into hospital with you. If you don’t have one, you will be able to get one by visiting: www.alzscot.org/gettingtoknowme or you can ask a member of hospital staff to provide you with this.
2. How will I know who people are and how to find my way around?
The team of staff looking after you should introduce themselves to you when you come into hospital. Every staff member has a badge with their name and job title. This can help to act as a memory aid of who they are and what their role is.
A staff member will show you around the ward area on admission. Clear signs will also be in use to help you find your way around and you will not be moved to a different ward area unless this is discussed with you, is needed as a result of your condition and is for your own benefit.
3. When will my family and friends be able to visit?
Scotland has a policy of open wards and all health boards are moving towards this.
Visiting times should be open and flexible to both your needs and those of your close friends and family members.
Family members and/or close friends will always be welcome to help you during your hospital stay if this is something you would both like e.g. help at mealtimes, with personal care or supporting you in discussions about your care.
4. Will staff know I have dementia and how to help support my individual needs?
If you would like to meet the staff or see the ward or unit before a planned hospital stay, you or a friend or family member can telephone and ask if this can be arranged. It may be helpful to write down anything you would like to ask (or request someone does this for you) and bring this with you during any arranged visit.
- Staff may not always be aware that you have dementia but when you come into hospital they will ask some questions about you. Telling staff that you have dementia will enable them to better meet your specific needs
- All staff should have received training about caring for people with dementia. There are also staff who have specialist training in dementia care e.g. Dementia Champions and Alzheimer Scotland Dementia Nurse Consultants who can help to provide any additional help and advice
- A personal plan of care suited to your individual needs should be developed in partnership with you
- Your Getting to Know Me document can also help inform your plan of care and enable staff to understand your likes and dislikes, your normal routines, what may be upsetting for you and how staff can help to make you feel at ease
- Staff will also work with you to ensure the right plan is in place for you, in preparation for your return home. On the day of discharge, they will arrange for you to go home in the daytime rather than in the evening.
It is very important that you feel safe when you are in hospital. Staff will try to make your hospital stay as comfortable as possible but if you are worried about anything please let someone know.
5. What should I do if I have any concerns about my care?
There are standards that support and drive quality care for people with dementia in general hospitals but if you have any concerns please:
- Speak to a member of staff as soon as possible about your concerns. If you do not feel comfortable doing this, ask a friend or relative if they can help or ask to be put in touch with advocacy services
- Every hospital has a patient feedback system which you can use to let people know what was good about your stay or if anything was not so good and how you think things can be made better.
We hope your hospital stay is a smooth and comfortable as possible.