DEMENTIA patients in Oxfordshire will see their care homes and hospital wards refurbished thanks to a new £1.5m Government grant.

Oxfordshire County Council is the largest recipient of the £50m new pilot fund, which was announced by the Department of Health yesterday.

The cash aims to create calmer surroundings for dementia patients and will include redecorating rooms, installing new furniture and creating quiet spaces.

The John Radcliffe Hospital’s Ward 7C, an acute medical 22-bed ward on which the average age of patients is 85, will receive £300,000 of the cash.

Improvements will include installing larger showers, non-slip flooring, lighting to reduce reflections, noise-absorbing ceilings and redecorating each four-bed bay so they have their own identities.

The John Radcliffe Hospital is run by Oxford University Hospital Trust.

Ward 7C matron Luisa Goddard said: “The Trust is delighted that this bid has been successful. This will enable us to make Ward 7C an improved area for caring for patients with dementia.

“We hope to then roll out what we learn from this across other medical wards which reinforces the organisation’s ongoing commitment to supporting patients with dementia.”

The £1.53m will also revamp eight wards in five community hospitals and 18 care homes – where more than 800 residents with dementia live – across Oxfordshire.

Research by The King’s Fund into dementia found cluttered ward layouts and poor signage in hospital and care homes were cited as the top reason for causing confusion and distress.

Alzheimer’s Society chief executive Jeremy Hughes said: “Moving into a care home or spending time in hospital can be a difficult transition, and often the buildings and grounds are not laid out in a way that supports staff to deliver good quality care.

“Investment in pioneering projects that will create dementia-friendly environments within these care settings will play a vital part in helping to improve the care hospitals or care homes are able to provide.”

Oxfordshire County Council, which funds adult social care, will manage The Oxfordshire Dignity Plus Programme, but the bid was jointly submitted with the GP-led Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group, which funds health services.

Councillor Judith Heathcoat, county council's cabinet member for adult services, said: “This is just wonderful news and another positive example of the close working relationship between the county council and our health partners.

“This money will help improve the lives of many people by creating dementia-friendly environments through changes to the interior of care homes and hospitals to better cater for people there.

The Department for Health said more than 100 hospitals and care homes across England would be helped with the £50m fund.



Meg Barbour, 70, from Wheatley, cared for her husband, Cedric, who died in 2004 aged 72 after suffering from dementia.
She said: “The hardest thing I have ever done in my life was to put my husband into the hands of someone I didn’t know because I couldn’t cope.
“It was an awful feeling of guilt and betrayal, but if it is somewhere that is bright and airy and welcoming and generally homely you are bound to feel better about it, and so to me it makes sense.”
She added: “It is wonderful that they are giving this boost. Dementia care is a big thing in the country – and in the country – because sadly we are going to have more of it, so the council doing more to improve the environment of people going into dementia care is a great thing.
“The more you can give them familiar things around them the better and more comfortable they will feel.”