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The finishing touches are being applied to a new specialist bedroom at Charlton Lane Hospital, designed to reduce harm suffered by people if they fall.

The Lofthouse Suite is a bedroom on Willow Ward at Charlton Lane Hospital, where specialist assessment, treatment and care is provided for older people with functional mental health problems and people with dementia.

The refurbishment of the room incorporates several different technologies, including shock absorbent walls and flooring, edge-protection and visual aids to help those with dementia to process their environment more safely. These innovations have been paired with night-vision motion-detection cameras, which can be linked to portable tablets. This provides ward-wide visual cover and means staff can be alerted to any movement.

Dave Anderson, Team Lead for Older Person Mental Health Physiotherapy at the Trust, said: “As a Trust, we recognise it is important to not only take steps to prevent falls in patients with dementia, but also to work to reduce the amount of harm that happens when falls do occur.

“As time goes by, we’re seeing an increase in levels of acuity of people’s illnesses. This means we are attempting to manage many more complex and vulnerable people than we have previously, so this kind of work becomes increasingly important. Falls can cause serious and enduring injuries, which in turn can be detrimental to someone’s quality of life.

“We’ve based our design of the Lofthouse Suite on the latest research and our experiences as a Trust, where we have undertaken extensive work in this area. The feedback so far has been positive, with the room showing promising signs of reducing harm to patients who have stayed there. We are now planning further studies to obtain clear and objective data.

“After visiting our hospital, another south west hospital trust was so impressed by our room that we are working with them to help them create one of their own.

²gether has been working to reduce the harm from falls by 50 per cent for the past five years. Since 2011, the trust has been involved in the NHS South West Quality and Patient Safety Improvement Programme for Mental Health. As part of this, the trust aims to reduce avoidable harm to inpatients in our care by making improvements in the way we work.

Work has included investigating any spikes in reported falls, and exploring individual factors that may have contributed to that fall. The hospital design has been made “dementia friendly” and as sympathetic to the patients’ needs as possible.

Hip protectors and safer footwear, such as non-slip slippers, have been introduced, alongside fall prevention training for all staff and luminous toilet signs.

The Trust also introduced and trialled red walking frames .The colour was chosen as it provides an element of contrast to the environment, which can assist someone living with dementia to process that their walking aid is in front of them and therefore they could be more likely to use it.

Dave explained: “The traditional colour of grey can get lost in vision as a person’s ability to differentiate between fore and background diminishes in certain types of dementia. This concept now been picked up by other trusts across the country, as well as healthcare providers in other countries. Further research in this area will be undertaken soon.”

If you or someone you know is living with dementia, you can find out more about the services we provide here.