Hospital welcomes critical report
Hospital chiefs insist they are working to improve the care and conditions of patients suffering from Alzheimer’s and dementia after visiting experts criticised standards at King Edward VII Memorial.
The Royal Gazette revealed that a team from the UK’s Dementia Training Company inspected the hospital’s facilities last December. Faults found at the Alzheimer’s and Related Disorders Unit (ARDU) included the use of restraints to strap patients to chairs, an “unwelcome” and “clinical” environment, and a lack of “meaningful engagement” between patients and staff.
But, according to the unit’s director, staff are now implementing recommendations put forward by the inspectors in an effort to raise standards.
And Granville Russell also claims the hospital is working with the charity Action On Alzheimer’s to ensure that progress on the ward continues. The charity was responsible for bringing the inspectors to Bermuda.
“We are working on all the recommendations and many improvements have already been made,” Mr Russell said.
“Many improvements have been made since the review, and we have just this year started a satisfaction survey. Residents who are able are surveyed, and family members of patients with dementia and Alzheimer’s are surveyed.
“We will be measuring the impact of the changes as they are implemented and listening to the feedback to ensure we deal with any issues families, and residents, experience that were not raised by the review.”
Mr Russell said that restraints were only used “as a last resort”, adding: “Our focus has been on ensuring all staff know the policy and follow it. It should be noted that ARDU does not have or use ankle restraints. When needed for resident safety, and only as a last resort, we use posey vests and soft belt restraints.”
The director said that staff treating Alzheimer’s and dementia sufferers attended training sessions last autumn and a full-time activities aide was now employed at the unit.
“Activities includes bus rides, spiritual sessions, baking sessions and Friday movies,” Mr Russell said.
“We also have plans to better utilise the garden, as recommended in the report. In the coming months, garden beds on the perimeters of the walkways will be filled in, new furniture will be provided and a herb garden formed. Trees overlooking the harbour will be cut back to allow a beautiful view of the harbour. Additionally, a staff team room has been adapted to become a ‘quiet room’ for residents who might have become agitated and need time to relax and feel comfortable within their environment.”
Mr Russell also pointed out that patients did not spend all day in their pyjamas, as one of the inspectors claimed, and that there was now enough chairs in the unit’s dining room to accommodate all patients. Inspectors had witnessed some patients sitting in wheelchairs.
“We believe this report was incredibly helpful and we are grateful to the reviewers and Action on Alzheimer’s and Dementia charity who brought the reviewers to Bermuda,” Mr Russell said.
“There were some minor inaccuracies — ankle restraints were not used — but we certainly believe it was a fair reflection of what the reviewers saw during their visit.
“While the issues raised concerned us, we have been pleased about the growing relationship with Action on Alzheimer’s and Dementia. It is one thing to provide a review, but the charity has stayed the course with us and become partners in improving the service and environment for our residents. I would also recognise our staff, who have worked on and implemented many of the actions. As the providers of the service, their input, support and commitment to improve has been vitally important.”