More hospitals should join campaign to support dementia patients, say nursing leaders

Nurses, carers and patients have called for more hospitals to sign up to a UK campaign to support people with dementia

Harrowing personal stories from nurses, carers and patients have illustrated the urgent need for more hospitals to sign up to a UK campaign that supports people with dementia.

John’s Campaign founder Nicci Gerrard, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust chief nurse
Janice Sigsworth and Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust dementia lead nurse Jo James at the John’s Campaign conference in London on October 12.

At the John’s Campaign conference in London last week, nursing leaders and people affected by dementia told how difficult hospital stays could be without unrestricted access to loved ones.

Set up in 2014, the campaign called for the carers of inpatients with dementia to have the same rights as parents of sick children: to remain with their loved ones at any time in hospital.

To date, 396 hospitals in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have signed up.

Frightening stories

John’s Campaign co-founder Nicci Gerrard – whose father’s dementia worsened irreversibly after a 5-week hospital stay without his family – said the illness brought fear, uncertainty, humiliation and sorrow.

‘People with dementia have the right to be accompanied,’ she said. 

Alzheimer’s Society (AS) chief executive Jeremy Hughes said a survey of 570 people affected by dementia revealed that 92% thought hospitals were a frightening place. 

Mr Hughes said some stories AS had heard about hospital stays were ‘frightening’ and included dementia patients being handcuffed to beds, left in soiled sheets, receiving incorrect medication and not being helped to eat.

Seventh C

‘We can enable family members, carers, supporters, people who love the person to help the person in hospital,’ Mr Hughes said. 

‘Why can we do it for children, but not equally dependent people?’

Chief nursing officer for England Jane Cummings said she felt passionately about John’s Campaign and considered it the seventh ‘C’.

‘If you are in an organisation that does not do it, go out and ask why the clinical commissioning group has not commissioned it,’ she said.

Memory lives 

Royal College of Nursing professional lead for long term conditions and end of life care Amanda Cheesley added that people had one chance to die well.

‘The worst thing about dying badly is that memory lives forever,’ she said.

‘The hurt that people feel and anger and passion when people left with bad memories: it embitters people.’

Further information

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