This week saw the launch of the first ever 'dementia friendly ambulance' in the UK.
EMAS has been working closely with the University of Northampton's dementia centre, UnityDEM to update four current vehicles to make people with dementia feel less frightened or confused when travelling in them.
The additions to vehicles include:
- The window nearest the ambulance stretcher – is now covered with a scene that contains key points to talk and reminisce about, including children playing to remind people of their youth and animals for patients to guess what they are.
- Music provision – a USB device provided with music in specific decades to allow staff to choose tracks that patients are most likely to have positive reactions/memories to.
- ‘Twiddlemuffs’ – a knitted hand muff, decorated with internal and external items, such as buttons and ribbons.
- This is Me documents – these include information such as what people like to be called, where they grew up, how they take their medication, things they don’t like and can be completed at home by patients and their carers for paramedic crews to refer to during future emergency call outs.
- Communication guide for staff – dementia friendly training for all front-line EMAS staff was rolled out from April this year; this guide contains top tips on using the changes in the ambulance to prompt conversations, how to alter their communication style to meet the needs of the patient and things to keep in mind for any patients who may not be able to communicate verbally.
The ambulances will start service on Monday 9 September in Northamptonshire and Leicestershire and there are plans for all 104 ambulances across the two counties to be dementia friendly by the end of October.
We respond to emergency calls from 43,000 patients a year who are living with a diagnosis of dementia. Over 5,000 of these patients live in Northamptonshire.
Charlotte Walker, Ambulance Operations Manager and project lead said:
"Continuously developing our service to meet the specific needs of our patients is vital and enables the response patients receive across the East Midlands to be of the highest possible standard.”
Professor Jacqui Parkes, the University’s NDRIC lead, said: “Sometimes, it’s not just the big things that make a difference in people’s lives, but more subtle adjustments and tweaks can cumulatively, make a big impact.
“For people with dementia, going into an ambulance can be a sudden, strange and potentially frightening experience, but EMAS have shown with their dementia friendly ambulance – the first of its kind in the UK – that with little adjustments, this can be reduced and lead to a much more positive experience. We look forward to seeing the full fleet in action very soon.”