People with dementia often find eating and / or drinking quite challenging, or there may be a change in their eating habits and preferences. These changes are sometimes quite dramatic and can be distressing for the person with dementia, as well as those caring for them.
Research has shown that providing a relaxed, social environment, appropriate consistencies of food and drink, as well as finger foods, may prolong a person’s independence and encourage them to eat more frequently – and who could blame them with these tasty treats on offer!
As such, a grant of £480 was approved by Nottingham Hospitals Charity to fund monthly tea parties for dementia patients on Ward B47 at Queen’s Medical Centre, for the next 12 months.
Jane Stockwell (pictured left) is a Speech and Language Therapist in Nottingham, part of the Specialist Medicine and Dementia Team. She explains why she applied for the grant and what a difference it is making to patients. She said:“Patients with dementia benefit from being in familiar, relaxed environments. As well as providing a social setting in which they can communicate, we often see that their oral intake improves in these 'tea parties'. Their dignity and independence can also be maintained by ensuring that the food and drink provided is of the appropriate consistency (for example thickened drinks or purée if a patient has a swallowing impairment) and is easy to access such as finger foods.”
Though the primary beneficiary is of course the patients themselves, the tea parties are also proving to be a fantastic learning opportunity for staff and carers, helping them observe strategies and working practices that might be useful when caring for dementia patients generally.
“The feedback from patients, staff and carers has been positive, with comments on how much patients enjoyed themselves, that they ate and drank more than usual and socialised with others.
“Other members of the team and carers are very welcome to join in what is always a positive and enjoyable afternoon!”