NDAA Dementia-Friendly Hospital Charter Poster Interview: Frank Arrojo

For Dementia Action Week 2019 we have produced a poster that can be displayed in hospitals that summarises the elements of the Dementia-Friendly Hospital Charter that people living with dementia and carers can see in clear view when they visit. The poster is available for all hospital trusts that are signed up to the Charter and aims to raise awareness of the standards of care that are expected and ultimately to improve the experience of people living with dementia and their carers when they visit hospital.

Continuing our series of interviews with the team that developed the poster we caught up with Frank Arrojo who is a tide member and carer representative on our Dementia-Friendly Hospital Taskforce:

How do you think the Dementia-Friendly Hospital Charter Poster will help people living with dementia and their carers when visiting hospital?

Throughout my role in leading on the development of the Poster there was one simple question I continually asked myself “What difference will the Poster make?”

Provided the Taskforce is able to persuade all signed-up acute hospitals in England to display the Poster on their hospital wards, outpatient clinics, etc., then I expect patients with dementia and their family carers will for the first-time be able to understand what to expect from the acute hospital they are attending.  I personally have never come across a situation – in a health setting – whereby a single document (never mind a one page Poster) clearly sets out the commitments the hospital are seeking to deliver. At the same time I am expecting the Poster will raise awareness amongst hospital staff, especially including those who have not even heard of nor read NDAA’s Dementia Friendly Hospital Charter.

Therefore, I am hoping the Poster will eventually have a real substantive positive impact in acting as a conduit/catalyst/vehicle through which meaningful engagement can take place between both hospital staff and patients with dementia and their family carers, so that patients with dementia and their family carers feel empowered and supported.  I consider it will take time for the Poster to have a real impact, but as awareness increases I am hoping it will have greater impact long-term.

For example, when the Poster is launched I will be encouraging all the people affected by dementia I know, that if they have set up or are considering setting up an emergency plan then why not consider including a copy of the Poster in the plan, as a reminder just in case a stay in hospital is required. However, a major factor of the Poster’s, and ultimately the Charter’s, success will depend on how receptive the signed-up hospitals are to displaying the Poster in highly visible areas.

Could you give us an example of a time when either you or a friend or family member have experienced good practice from a health professional in hospital relating to dementia care and support?

As my own personal experience in caring for my late mum took place over 8 years ago I now rely on the stories I hear from the family carers I know, via the local dementia carers support groups I run.  As regards the question I am afraid that unfortunately, I don’t think I can.  Disappointingly I have not been informed of a good recent experience in a hospital setting.  That doesn’t necessarily mean good practice hasn’t taken place, but too often I hear about and support carers through in situations, such as potentially unsafe discharges, and palliative care nurses not having the communication skills to speak with family carers about end-of-life.  There are a lot of reasons why that might have happened but the hope is by displaying this poster it will be some help towards reducing these experiences, by promoting good practice amongst hospital staff and letting people living with dementia and carers know what they can expect when they visit hospital.

What do you think is the most positive change that can be made going forward to improve the experiences of people living with dementia and their carers when they visit hospital?

It is all about increasing awareness amongst all hospital staff, people with dementia and their family carers so that attitudes, working cultures, understanding of dementia, etc. – both personal and work orientated – are improved/increased over time.

Throughout the past 8 years – in which I have been involved in supporting projects and programmes to improve the experiences of patients with dementia and their family carers in hospital – I have seen a much greater level of interest amongst hospital staff seeking to improve their working practices.  Very often this is usually down to the fact that their family has been personally affected by someone living with dementia.  I now consider the Poster is an additional tool in seeking to change the hearts and minds of everyone involved to make a positive difference.

Further details on the poster and how to access it are available below:

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