Welsh health board funds pilot project to create online design app to improve care environments for people living with dementia
Supportive environments can play a key role in supporting people with dementia to live more independently
A digital app to help create more dementia-friendly environments and support patients while in hospital 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 paper-based assessment tool currently used to assess how dementia-friendly care environments are.
The project is due to start this month and will initially involve staff from 12 wards from the health board’s acute and community hospitals as well as mental health wards across the region.
Once ready, the app will be made available globally to make it easier for staff to assess 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 environments in which they deliver care.
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 who care for them
“There is now growing evidence that dementia-friendly design can promote inclusion, independence, and quality of life for people living with dementia,” said Waller.
“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 who care for them.
“And we are grateful to the health board for funding this project and look forward to working with it on this development which will make the tools more accessible and easier to use.”
During the project, health board staff 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 therapy gardens.
The process will be a valuable learning opportunity and will raise awareness of how even small improvements to the environment can affect patients with dementia positively
Kelly Arnold, mental health and learning disabilities quality and practice development nurse at the health board, 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 will raise awareness of how even small improvements to the environment can affect patients with dementia positively.”
Professor Tracey Williamson, a consultant nurse for dementia, added: “This project will support our ambitions to embrace digital technology where it can support staff, resulting in improved patient experience.”