New approach in BGH wards for the elderly

Judith Tait-Brown, senior charge nurse of Ward 14 DME and Ali Forster, senior charge nurse of Ward 12 DME.
Judith Tait-Brown, senior charge nurse of Ward 14 DME and Ali Forster, senior charge nurse of Ward 12 DME.

Two Borders General Hospital wards that care for elderly patients have undergone a series of transformations over recent months.

The goal is to make a stay in hospital as stress free as possible while at the same time encouraging patients to get out of bed and join in social activities in the Department of Medicine for the Elderly (DME) wards - officially renamed Ward 14 DME and Ward 12 DME from Monday, April 2.

Ali Forster, senior charge nurse of Ward 12 DME said: “The idea is to create some stimulation for our patients and de-escalate stress and distress. This improves their experience whilst in hospital and can help them return to health sooner and reduce the length of their hospital stay.”

Judith Tait-Brown, senior charge nurse of Ward 14 DME added: “The ethos of the DME effect is to improve the patient experience and end PJ paralysis.

“By introducing social and physical activity we reduce pyjama (bed) time and promote healthier muscles.

“We all need a reason to get out of bed and it’s no different for elderly patients. Increased activity promotes wellness, reduces muscle wastage and improves well-being which enhances recovery rates and gets patients home sooner; the social activities aim to do just that.”

Future plans to expand this positive work include the introduction of tables and chairs to encourage mobility and social interaction between patients at meal times. There are also environmental changes planned, such as moving the glass door at ward 14 DME across the main corridor to create space for a quiet ‘wander zone’ within the department.

Patients are encouraged to get dressed in their day clothes, which promotes mobility, dignity and independence and ward staff have been working with allied health professional colleagues implementing an activity prescription chart for all patients to encourage continuous therapy seven days a week.

Staff have undergone training in how to relieve stress and distress so they now have the skills to de-escalate situations and use distraction methods, should patients become distressed. And there are regular ward visits from Therapets who help promote well-being amongst patients too.

Therapets aren’t the only visitors to the wards; Hawick’s Golden Girls have stopped by for a sing-song a couple of times, giving a lively sing-along session of Scottish and Irish songs.