It is a condition that affects thousands of people directly and indirectly, and will only become more problematic as the population ages.

Half of patients aged 75 or older at Kingston Hospital have dementia, and now bosses hope to revamp part of Esher Wing to meet their needs.

A fundraising campaign will launch at the end of the month with a target of £750,000 - and one generous donor has already given £20,000.

Fundraising chairman Serge Lourie said elderly care wards would be transformed with "colour-coordinated, brighter colours and all the things the experts say you need, a more homely atmosphere, and also areas where [patients] can get together, reminisce, tell stories, and so-on."

He added: "We don't want to keep people in hospital, but we want to make their stay as good as possible.

"I have got many friends who have parents in the same unfortunate position and it's just tragic.

"It's certainly a thing that touches most people's lives.

"After the wards have been refurbished we will start work on a dedicated dementia centre which will provide support and information for those with dementia and their carers, with facilities for therapeutic and stimulating activities and a garden where people can relax in a calming atmosphere."

Mr Lourie, former leader of Richmond Council, has a record of success when it comes to fundraising - he launched the campaign to build the William Rous cancer unit at Kingston.

The hospital already has a dementia strategy in place, which will incorporate this campaign.

Every staff member is trained to communicate with patients who have the condition, while blue forget-me-not magnets mark their charts.

For more information or to get involved, contact or call 020 8934 2470.

To donate online, visit

Alternatively, send a cheque made out to Kingston Hospital Charity (Dementia Appeal), Kingston Hospital, Galsworthy Road, Kingston, KT2 7QB.

The appeal will launch officially on Wednesday, April 29.