The Bishop of Wakefield Tony Robinson has become Pinderfields Hospital’s first-ever elderly care ambassador.
After touring wards, witnessing a valentine’s party for patients and visiting a reminiscence room designed to provoke happy memories for those living with dementia, Bishop Tony took up the role which will see him promote the message that health care for older folks matters.
The idea to create elderly care ambassadors came from The Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust Lead Dementia Nurse, Anita Ruckledge MBE. “It is wonderful that the public support children’s wards especially at Christmas, but that compassion doesn’t always extend to the elderly” said Anita. “Yet they are just as vulnerable and are less likely to be surrounded by visitors and family.”
Society has at least become much more dementia friendly over the last decade thanks to the work of charities and organisations like the Church of England. Bishop Tony told The Trust about efforts to organise dementia friendly acts of worship and parish travel rotas which enable the immobile elderly to attend church. Bishop Tony said: “There have been such great improvements in elderly care but conditions like dementia can be heart-breaking. We need to show compassion for patients and indeed the carers who often take the strain on their behalf.”
Anita Ruckledge continued: “Church services with their hymns, well-known prayers and parts of scripture can be vital to those living with dementia and we keep copies of the Book of Common Prayer in our reminiscence room. Music can be amongst the last thing those living with dementia engage with, and we once had a patient with us who could still sing – even though she hadn’t spoken for nine months.”
During his tour of Pinderfields, Bishop Tony saw the hospital’s new family support rooms. Furnished and decorated so as not to look like a clinical setting, they allow loved ones to be with patients at times of great crisis. While many hospitals across the country allow parents to stay with children at hospital – the Pinderfields rooms are the first of their kind in the entire UK.
David Melia, Acting Chief Nurse at The Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust said: “We believe that Bishop Tony and all of the ambassadors we recruit over the next few months will spread a message of hope to the community that quality care exists at their local hospital for older patients.”