Memories of pets coax patients’ smiles

Posted under Blog on April 25th, 2014 by Editorial Team / No Comments

Pets can often provide companionship to people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. They are there in the morning, and they are there when you go to sleep. The benefits of having a furry friend have been shown to improve memory and communication skills.

Nurses and volunteers at Yeovil Hospital in the UK created a workshop where they knitted handheld replicas of the pets once owned by the Alzheimer’s patients at the hospital. Patients may then remember the black Labrador that was with a family for 15 years or the West Highland Terrier that reminded them of home.

This is just one example of the innovative ways that hospitals and care homes are attempting to connect with patients who live with Alzheimer’s disease. “The effect of the knitted pets is hard to quantify but if it raises a smile with a patient - honestly, there is no better feeling,” said Janine Valentine, nurse consultant for dementia and the elderly at Yeovil Hospital.

Patients with Alzheimer’s disease statistically do not fare well at hospital. Their average stay is 20 per cent longer than other related conditions and they are three times more likely to suffer from an injury. The scheme at Yeovil Hospital has attempted to find a way for doctors and nurses to quickly build relationships with the elderly and those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.

Her work stands at the heart of a campaign called Face to a Name which aims to transform the way the elderly and those with dementia are cared for in hospitals across Britain. The campaign, created by Giovanna Forte and Jake Arnold Foster, was borne out of the notion that doctors and nurses can easily forget that elderly patients were once like them.

The Face to a Name campaign is working with Yeovil Hospital, as well as a number of hospices and nursing homes across the country. It has shown to bridge the gap between carers and the elderly, who are so often misunderstood.

Tags: Alzheimer's disease, dementia, Face to a Name, knitted pets, Yeovil Hospital



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