Outstanding Win for Dementia Companion Team

7th October 2022
: left to right, Dementia Companions, Adeline Gillen and Sheila Fella

The South Eastern Health & Social Care Trust’s Dementia Companion Team has scooped a prestigious award for ‘Best Dementia Team’ at the National Dementia Care Awards 2022.

The team were instrumental in developing the ‘Dementia Companion’ role which enhances the experience and safety of patients living with dementia who are admitted to hospital. The Dementia Companion service was first piloted within the Trust in 2018 with three members of staff redeployed to this new service who have embraced this new role.

The Dementia Companions ensure ward environments are both person-centred and dementia enabling and they provide a vital role in supporting patient care which reduces the length of their stay in hospital and helps to reduce associated risk.

Each Dementia Companion team member has undertaken continued professional development courses and qualifications.  They have also led on a number of innovation therapies, such as the Trust-wide introduction of Reminiscent Interactive Therapies Activities (RITA). These therapies have had a positive impact on patients and families and have played an important role during the Covid-19 Pandemic to help maintain interactive visits and communication.

Dementia Service Improvement Lead for Dementia Services, Tracey Kane said, “We are absolutely delighted that our Dementia Companion Team are winners of the National Dementia Care Awards 2022. This prestigious award acknowledges the invaluable support the dementia companions provide for our patients, colleagues, relatives and carers and it will help us to develop and promote this essential service.

“As Dementia Service Improvement Lead for the South Eastern Trust, I am immensely proud of the team and of the positive impact they have made providing quality compassionate person-centred care for our patients living with Dementia.”

Consultant Nurse, Deirdre Lewis who was involved in the pilot of the Dementia Companions added her congratulations, “I would like to say how immensely proud I am of everyone involved. To have staff willing to embrace and trial a brand new role and having developed a position that is so widely respected, Ward Manager’s are asking to have their team’s extended to include a Dementia Companion.

“When anyone comes in contact with the Dementia Companions on their daily work day, I often hear just how valuable their role is for our patients who are living with Dementia. It is simply such an essential support to patients. The Dementia Companions Team have gone from strength to strength over the past four years.

“A recent highlight was seeing the work of the Dementia Companion Team acknowledged in the RCN Award ‘Nursing Support’ category. They were such worthy finalists with their influence and appreciation being felt Trust-wide, showing that there truly is leadership at all levels.

“The caring and compassionate approach of the Dementia Companion Team has been highly recognised, by creating patient-centred activity programmes which helps patients to feel included and reassured during their hospital stay.  This demonstrates just how invaluable the Dementia Companion Team are!”