New £10million dementia care unit opens in Sunderland

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The North East’s first £10million dementia care unit is almost ready to open its doors to Sunderland’s most vulnerable patients.

 The 24-bed unit, at Monkwearmouth Hospital, has been specially designed and built over the last five years to give state of the art, pioneering care of those suffering with the debilitating disease.

Monkwearmouth Hospital's new dementia assessment and treatment centre off Newcastle road, Sunderland - project officer Tony Railton.

Monkwearmouth Hospital's new dementia assessment and treatment centre off Newcastle road, Sunderland - project officer Tony Railton.

 Two wards – Roker, for men, and Mowbray, for women – will officially start taking in patients from Cherry Knowle Hospital, Ryhope, on Monday.

The unit was developed as part of the £60million, Northumbria, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust Pride Project, which aims to improve mental health care in Sunderland, and staff are hoping it will provide the highest quality treatment.

Project director Tony Rainton said the opening of the centre was a “pivotol moment”.

“It is one of the biggest and boldest directions the trust has taken in dementia care,” he said. “It is the first attempt at the dementia care ideal in the North East.

“We have been working with the Dementia Services Development Centre at Stirling University, which is renowned for researching and recommending treatments.

“We have challenged some of their ideas and implemented some, and are hoping we will become the first dementia care unit they have accredited.”

The unit uses pictures including Roker Pier, and the Port of Sunderland to create a comforting, peaceful environment for patients and visitors.

A garden allows patients to mingle safely outside, play games, and do gardening, and an architect has planted shrubbery to create a therapeutic atmosphere.

“This is not a home,” said Tony. “This is a hospital for the time only that patients need to be here.

“I hope that they enjoy it, and that it brings them some peace.

“For the relatives, we are hoping it will bring some comfort.”

Each ward will be staffed by about 28 workers including doctors, nurses and support staff including physiotherapists.

Tony added: “I am hoping that staff will be motivated by it, and the impact of the building will make care more successful for everybody.”

Open days will be held on Tuesday, from noon to 7pm, and on Wednesday, from 9.30am to 4pm. For more details, contact Charlotte Sly, tel. 223 2986.