Patient transport crew bring TLC to dementia patients

Wednesday 4 October 2017

20171004 Patient transport team

Dementia patients are among those receiving extra support from Guy’s and St Thomas’ Patient Transport ambulance crews when they visit our hospitals.

Patients identified by nursing teams as being at risk, including the frail, older people and vulnerable people without the support of a carer, are looked after by a two-person Patient Transport ambulance crew throughout their hospital visit. On arrival to hospital their care is transferred to ward staff.

The crews ensure that patients are never left alone throughout their journey, that the patient’s home is left safe, appliances are switched off and the property is secured. They also make sure that patients have their medication with them when returning home from hospital.

Ian Coshall, a patient transport driver at Guy’s and St Thomas’, says: “We always have a two-man crew when we’re escorting vulnerable patients. One of us is concentrating on the road and the other is supporting the patient. Some patients may get agitated if they do not recognise the areas we are driving through or can’t remember where they live, or are going to a care home.

“I’ve been trained to deal with patients sympathetically and to recognise the signs of dementia. But in truth we get most of our training on the job. I talk to patients and reassure them along the journey, maybe pointing out a particular landmark like a church or fire station, that will refresh their memory.

“I treat them like family, how I would like to be treated myself.”

Patient Transport crews are trained to recognise vulnerable patients, undertaking a safeguarding course and watching Barbara’s Story – an innovative training film produced by Guy’s and St Thomas’ about a dementia patient’s hospital experience.

The initiative is part of the Trust’s Always include me programme which raises awareness of the support needed for carers and for vulnerable patients. Other developments include a new-look Carer’s Passport which enables carers to be more involved in the general care of their loved one. This could mean everything from supporting patients at mealtimes to flexible visiting arrangements and an overnight stay.

The Trust is also providing the Caring with Carers course, a free half-day workshop for unpaid carers designed to give practical advice on topics like safe moving and handling, helping with the personal hygiene of a loved one and managing medications. More support will also be offered to staff who are carers.

Sarah Wilding, Director of Nursing for Adult Services at the Trust, says: “Our Patient Transport ambulance crews play an essential role in ensuring that our most vulnerable patients are safe throughout their visit to hospital. By working closely with our nursing teams to identify those patients at particular risk we can ensure that all patients receive the very best possible care.”

Last updated: October 2017

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