People with dementia to benefit from major investment in health care environments

The physical environment in which the NHS cares for people with dementia is to be improved as a result of the next phase of The King’s Fund’s Enhancing the Healing Environment programme, funded by the Department of Health.

Minister for Care Services, Phil Hope MP, announced today that nurse-led teams in 10 NHS trusts in England that provide mental health and learning disabilities services in hospitals to people with dementia will each receive £30,000 from the Department of Health. The trusts will be asked to commit another £10,000 to their projects, which will aim to improve areas in hospitals that people with dementia regularly use.

A wide range of projects will be carried out as part of the half a million pound programme, including: an indoor garden at Macclesfield District General Hospital (Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust); a new social area at Aintree Hospital (Mersey Care NHS Trust); and the creation of a memory wall at Newholme Hospital (Derbyshire County Primary Care Trust) so that the families and carers of people with dementia can display personal memorabilia to help trigger memories.

Chief Executive at The King’s Fund, Niall Dickson, said:

'Dementia is one of the most distressing diseases facing our society – it carries a terrible burden for sufferers and their families. We know that the physical environment in which we care for people affects the way they feel, and this is especially true for people with dementia and those caring for them. We believe that these projects will make a difference to the quality of the environment in which people are cared for. They will also empower staff to make long-lasting improvements to hospitals throughout the country.'

Speaking today at an event to launch the new projects, which will support the implementation of the government’s first national dementia care strategy, launched in February 2009, Phil Hope MP said:

'These projects are another part of our efforts to support people with dementia and their families. We know that improving environments in hospitals has a whole range of benefits – including reductions in trips and falls, reductions in aggressive incidents and improvements in the experience that people and their families have while in hospital.

'I thank The King’s Fund for their work in driving these projects and look forward to seeing new ones completed.'

The projects will be run by a nurse-led team of five people, including clinical and estates staff, carers and service user representatives. The teams will undertake a development programme run by The King’s Fund to equip them with the skills and knowledge they will need to plan and manage their projects.

Chief Nursing Officer, Dame Christine Beasley, said:

'I have been a supporter of the Enhancing the Healing Environment programme from its inception. I am delighted that so many staff and organisations now see the benefits of improving the environment for the people they care for and support. I am especially pleased that nurses have played such a key leadership role and I know that they will be central to taking this current programme forward.'

Since its launch by HRH The Prince of Wales in 2000, more than 1,500 staff and patients from 133 NHS trusts, two hospices and five HM prisons across England have been involved in improving their health care environments as part of the EHE programme. This next phase of the programme follows the earlier success of 46 projects in mental health and learning disabilities trusts between 2004 and 2008. These projects have contributed to the programme receiving widespread recognition as a national exemplar both in terms of the individual projects and for acting as a catalyst for the NHS to consider the impact of the environment on recovery and the way care is delivered.

In addition to the 10 dementia projects, Phil Hope MP also announced that following a two-year pilot programme in London, 20 new projects will be carried out to improve health care environments in prisons and young offenders institutions throughout England and Wales. Working in partnership with Her Majesty’s Prisons Service and Offender Health (a partnership between the Ministry of Justice and the Department of Health), The King’s Fund programme will aim to improve the environment in which mental heath, public health and other health care services are provided to people in prisons. The projects will work to the same principles as the dementia projects and will be led by clinical staff working in prisons along with prison officers and estates staff.

Niall Dickson added: 'A large proportion of prisoners have mental health or substance misuse problems so providing good quality health care and support in prisons is important. These projects will help to provide prisoners in need of health care with the treatment, support and health education they need. They will also help clinical staff working in prisons to develop new and improved ways of caring for prisoners.'

More on our Enhancing the Healing Environment programme

Notes to editors: 

  1. For further information or interviews, please contact The King’s Fund press and public affairs office on 020 7307 2585, 020 7307 2632 or 020 7307 2581. An ISDN line is available for interviews on 020 7637 0185.
  2. The King’s Fund is a charity that seeks to understand how the health system in England can be improved. Using that insight, we help to shape policy, transform services and bring about behaviour change. Our work includes research, analysis, leadership development and service improvement. We also offer a wide range of resources to help everyone working in health to share knowledge, learning and ideas.
  3. The 10 trusts participating in the projects for dementia services are: Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust; Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust; Humber Mental Health Teaching NHS Trust; Mersey Care NHS Trust; NHS North Yorkshire & York Community and Mental Health Services; Cornwall Partnership NHS Trust; Derbyshire County Primary Care Trust; Dorset HealthCare NHS Foundation Trust; Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust; Lincolnshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.
  4. The prisons participating in the Enhancing the Healing Environment programme are: HMYOI Brinsford; HMP/YOI Castington; HMYOI Deerbolt; HMP/YOI Eastwood Park; HMP/YOI Forest Bank ; HMYOI & RC Glenparva; HMP Gloucester; HMP Hewell; HMP Hull; HMYOI Huntercombe; HMP Manchester; HMP/YOI Moorland; HMP Ranby; HMP Risley; HMP Swansea; HMP The Mount; HMP The Verne; HMP Wandsworth; HMP Whatton;HMP Whitemoor.
  5. The first national Dementia Strategy was launched on 3 February 2009, which aims to transform the quality of dementia care. It sets out initiatives designed to make the lives of people with dementia, their carers and families better and more fulfilled. Download a copy on the Department of Health website.