Patients families praise Sunderland’s new £10million dementia centre

Roker and Mowbray wards at the Monkwearmouth Hospital.'New assessment and treatment unit for people with dementia.
Roker and Mowbray wards at the Monkwearmouth Hospital.'New assessment and treatment unit for people with dementia.
Have your say

A NEW £10million dementia care unit has been given the seal of approval by those using it.

Patients and medical staff have now moved into the site at Monkwearmouth Hospital, the first of its kind in the region.

Roker ward manager Geoff Willis, previously based at a similar unit at Cherry Knowle Hospital in Ryhope, said the building, funded by Northumbria, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust marked a move forward in patient care.

“I think the trust has consulted with everyone in the development of this unit,” he said.

“At one time, planning and building something like this was completely different, and that didn’t happen.

“Now, it’s going to constantly evolve to see how things can be done differently.”

He added that the design of the building, offering two wards – Roker, for men, and Mowbray, for women – strikes the right balance in maintaining patients’ independence.

Building developers consulted with dementia experts at Stirling University to take advantage of current research while creating the facility.

“Even the garden gives them some independence,” said Geoff.

“Patients can choose to step outside and get a breath of fresh air and walk around safely, and we have never had that before.”

Roker Ward staff nurse Lorraine Hardy also said that she can see the improvement that the new unit will make to patients’ care.

“The feedback from patients and their families has been really positive,” she said. “Little touches like having their photographs outside their doors, and numbers on the doors are making a big difference.

“Staff are excited to be working here.”

Rose Tredwell, 77, of Doxford Park, whose husband Kenneth, 80, was admitted to the Roker Ward, said the communal spaces are helping his care.

“He’s only been here a few days, but he’s socialising more,” she said.

“It was nice in Ryhope, but this is excellent. I didn’t expect it to be like this. The rooms are beautiful.

“He seems as though he has settled, and he hasn’t complained.”

The wards at the new site, completed last month, use reminiscence walks featuring old photographs, artwork and sporting memorabilia to help calm patients and comfort them with things they may remember from the past.

Geoff added that the new facilities are also creating a happy atmosphere.

“It’s been a bit stressed with moving everyone in, but so far, so good,” he said. “We have a happy workforce.”

Only 60per cent of dementia sufferers are diagnosed

NEW research by the Department of Health reveals that only 60 per cent of people in Sunderland with dementia have been diagnosed with the condition.

The new figures show that dementia diagnosis rates in the North East vary from almost 71 per cent to just 45 per cent.

A report reveals that South Tyneside has the highest dementia diagnosis rate, at 71 per cent, and Northumberland has the lowest.

The Alzheimer’s Society is now calling on health and social care bodies to make dementia more of a priority.

The charity is also calling on members of wider society to help make their community more dementia-friendly in order to reduce stigma and ensure sufferers are supported and feel included.

The report and interactive map provide a snapshot of the situation for people with dementia.

To access the map, visit