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Sir Tony Robinson Launches £200K RUH Dementia Project

28 Mar 11:00 by Martin Milsom

David Medlock from Medlock Charitable Trust with members of RUH

Following a substantial donation by the Medlock Charitable Trust to the RUH’s (Royal United Hospital, Bath) charity, 'The Forever Friends Appeal', the launch of a pioneering new Volunteer Dementia Project took place on Thursday 9th of March.

Sir Tony Robinson joined the hospital’s Forever Friends Appeal, their guests and staff at Bath’s Royal United Hospital (RUH) to celebrate the pioneering new Volunteer Dementia Project.  The celebration marked the launch of the innovative £200k project which will take a more holistic and progressive approach aimed at transforming dementia services at the hospital, through a volunteer driven programme. The pilot project will run initially for three years and will provide up to 160 volunteer placements and 4,800 hours of care for patients with dementia at the RUH.  It will include a Volunteer Befriending Service and volunteer led activities, which will be organised by the newly appointed coordinator, employed by the Alzheimer’s Society, Brogan Knight. Brogan commented “I’m thrilled to be a part of the Volunteer Dementia Project”.

The Forever Friends Appeal and the RUH Dementia Care Service are working with key partners: The Alzheimer’s Society, Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership and Research Institute for Care of the Elderly (RICE) to help improve treatment and care for patients with dementia.  Consultant Geriatrician and project lead Dr Chris Dyer commented: “By combining our knowledge and expertise with that of our project partners, it will help develop this program and really test out its value in caring for patients with dementia.  The three year Volunteer Dementia Project will help the RUH pilot and research the need for longer term work in this area, and hopefully also provide a blueprint for a future national model of care”.

The aim of the project is to improve the patient experience and outcomes, for example, levels of agitation and distress, and length of stay, which will be beneficial to patients, their carers and staff.  RICE will research and evaluate the project linked with patients’ wellbeing and outcomes, which will be presented to the RUH to highlight any need to expand the project and to secure more sustainable funding.

Sir Tony Robinson, an advocate of Dementia care said “I’m delighted to be a part of this launch; I hope this project will take the lead and encourage other District General Hospitals to provide similar services for patients suffering from dementia.  It is such a debilitating disease and this new service should make a real difference to patients and their loved ones when they come into hospital”.

Tim Hobbs, head of the fundraising team at The Forever Friends Appeal commented “We are so pleased to have secured the core funding to go ahead with the Volunteer Dementia Project and are particularly indebted to The Medlock Charitable Trust for their early and significant support that has underpinned the fundraising effort.  This is an opportunity to take the lead and set a new standard for dementia care in hospitals such as the RUH.  The pilot is funded by our supporters, and to our knowledge, there is no other project like this in the UK.  Working with our project partners and with Dr Chris Dyer taking the lead, we hope this will be a successful initiative which, with public support, will be able to further expand”.