A REGULAR medical ward at the Royal Blackburn Hospital has been transformed into one of the best in the country for dementia care.

Ward C5 has undergone a complete overhaul as part of a £1.4million project, including ‘intelligent’ healing lights which reflect the patient body clock, larger bed spaces, bright colours to promote orientation, and a nature theme.

The new LED lights mean the Royal Blackburn is the first hospital in the country to use lighting to replicate the circadian rhythm, following pioneering research in Belgium and Holland.

The new ‘home in hospital’ environment is aimed at helping patients feel more calm and relaxed in what can often be a distr-essing situation, and was made possible by cash from the Kings Fund and its ‘enhancing the healing environment’ project.

John Dean, associate medical director at East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “There is increasing evidence that the physical environment where we deliver care has a major impact on outcomes for people with dementia.

“It also improves the experience of care for them, and their carers, as well as being more rewarding for staff.

“We have developed a programme of simple changes to ward and communal areas across all trust sites, while introducing the dementia- friendly principles from the very beginning of the refurbishment on Ward C5.”

The 14-bed ward also includes specialist signage systems using words, icons and symbols, a quiet room to meet relatives and take time out, and personal pods above each bed so patients can bring in a familiar object from home.

Sandra Nuttall, clinical dementia nurse lead, said: “The number of people who develop dementia is set to double over the next 15 to 20 years. “Knowledge of dementia is the responsibility of all health and social care staff, and I am pleased to be part of this project to continue to improve environments across all hospital sites to make them more accessible and friendly for people with dementia and their carers, families, and friends.”

Dr Nick Roberts, consultant physician and geriatrician at the trust, said: “The ward has been refurbished to a high standard to provide supervised reception, and a large open social area that enables a calm, caring, homely environment, maximising safety and dignity.”

“The new ward provides a mix of single and small communal bed areas (14 beds in total) with identifiable wet rooms, bathrooms and toilets, all providing suitable provision on the basis that all patients matter, and each patient receives safe, personal and effective care.”