Every staff member at Kingston Hospital will be trained to communicate with patients who have dementia.
The plan is part of the hospital’s three-year dementia strategy, set to be discussed at tomorrow’s trust board meeting.
Nearly half of the hospital’s patients over 75 either have, or are suspected to have, the condition – double the national average and attributed to the borough’s high life expectancy.
Chief executive Kate Grimes said: “We need to completely rethink the way we care for patients on our wards – changing sterile clinical environments with lots of corners, into one that is easier for patients to navigate and less alienating.
“Patients with dementia do often have multiple and very complex needs and being in hospital can be very unsettling and, for some, a frightening experience.”
A report by nursing director Duncan Burton says: “We are proud of the services we deliver but we know there is more we can do to improve.”
Steps already taken include using blue forget-me-not markers on charts of patients with dementia, and putting carers on a team representing patients with the condition.
The hospital hopes to let patients “maintain their rituals and routines despite being in hospital” and allow carers to take part in patients’ care.
Patients should be diagnosed quickly and have a cognitive test within 24 hours if necessary.