Hospital bus stop signs to help calm dementia patients

Breeda Columb, Head of Nursing, with Lisa Aldam, Non Clinical Support Worker, next to the new sign.

Breeda Columb, Head of Nursing, with Lisa Aldam, Non Clinical Support Worker, next to the new sign.

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Bus stop signs have been installed in Leeds hospital Accident and Emergency departments to help keep dementia patients calm.

First Bus has donated the signs, which replicate real bus stop signs seen around the city.

Bus stops at Children's Outpatients at Harrogate District Hospital

Bus stops at Children's Outpatients at Harrogate District Hospital

They have been mounted on walls at A&E at St James’s Hospital and Leeds General Infirmary because older people with dementia can get disoriented or upset when in the unfamiliar environment of hospital.

Now, staff can suggest they sit down by the stops, which helps keep them calm and may prevent them trying to leave, which could put them at risk.

Breeda Columb, head of nursing for urgent care at Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trust, said: “Some of our older patients in the Accident and Emergency department can suffer from dementia and this poses a particular challenge for our staff to try and keep them calm and persuade them to stay while they are being attended to.

“One of the innovations we have at both St James’s and Leeds General Infirmary is a bus stop mounted on the wall. These were kindly donated to us by First Bus and are in the same style as the bus stops people will be familiar with on streets right across the city.

“If someone with dementia is anxious, they often say they want to leave as soon as they arrive, or else they don’t want to wait around for tests or to be admitted. One of the distraction techniques we use to help keep them safe is to bring them and sit them down at the bus stop in the department.”

Other innovations to reduce anxiety for elderly and vulnerable patients include knitted ‘twiddlemuffs’ to keep their hands occupied.

Harrogate District Hospital has also installed a series of bus stops to direct children to an area with toys and games. The routes were created because youngsters waiting in its general Outpatients Department often did not realise there was a specific area to play in at Children’s Outpatients.

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