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Royal hospital reveals new equipment to aid dementia patients

The Chesterfield Royal Hospital has turned to technology to provide an innovative aid to help care for patients living with Dementia.

The Reminiscence Interactive Therapy and Activities system, affectionately known as RITA, has been introduced onto the Royal’s wards, with support from Chesterfield Royal Hospital Charitable Funds. It has been used in other hospitals to help stimulate the mind, encourage conversations and reduce falls to help clinical teams deliver effective person centred care.

RITA is an interactive, touchscreen monitor, complemented by 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 is large enough to be used by more than one person for group activities and has been specifically designed to be used for groups as well as individuals.

The system was introduced to ward areas at the beginning of February 2019 and Councillor Jacqui Ridgeway, who is Chair of North East Derbyshire District Council, is currently making a second unit the subject of her fundraising campaign to go alongside the one the Trust already has.

Glyn Wildman is the Matron for the Care of the Elderly, he said: “We’re delighted to be able to introduce this for our patients who have been given a diagnosis of dementia, delirium or another cognitive impairment. It can also help patients who are at a significant risk of falling, reducing length of stay and we can adapt the content of the devices to suit different patients.

“For example, 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 and wiped as soon as the patient is discharged.

“We’ve seen it used in other hospitals and it is an effective way of calming a distressed and anxious patient; it doesn’t even rely on an Internet connection. Much of the content is preloaded which means that it is secure, appropriate for a ward setting and we’re very grateful to the donations to our charitable funds that have made it possible to bring this resource to those patients who need it.”

The unit does support Internet use and has Skype built in which means that people can virtually visit patients if they are unable to make it to the hospital, out of the country or if the patient isn’t able to receive visitors. The system is available to all areas of the hospital, including the Emergency Department, palliative care, occupational therapy and for patients presenting with mental health needs.

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