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Dementia ward at Medway Maritime Hospital to be named after Chatham pensioner

A dedicated dementia ward will be opened at Medway Maritime Hospital following a widower’s campaign.

The Bernard unit will have a specialist doctor, occupational therapist and nurses to ensure patients with the illness receive tailor-made care.

Maurice Bernard with a picture of his late wife, Dora
Maurice Bernard with a picture of his late wife, Dora

It has been named after Chatham pensioner Maurice Bernard, (pictured) 78, whose wife Dora had dementia.

Mrs Bernard was admitted to Medway hospital when she stopped eating and drinking.

Mr Bernard felt, as Dora’s carer and husband of more than 50 years, he could make a valuable contribution to her well-being in hospital and wanted to explain her likes and dislikes to staff.

But Mr Bernard felt the nurses did not listen to him, and it was to be the start of his campaign to transform dementia care at Medway Maritime, which continued after his wife’s death in 2010.

Mr Bernard’s meeting with the director of nursing led to staff at the hospital being trained by the charity Dementia UK. Dementia buddies have also been recruited and have been working on the elderly care wards.

Last year, the hospital launched the Butterfly Scheme, which allows people with memory impairment to request a specific form of personalised care. It uses a butterfly motif on dementia patients’ notes to indicate they are vulnerable.

“This is the first milestone on our journey to improve dementia care" - Matron Amanda Gibson

The scheme was developed for people with dementia, but the hospital is now able to offer the same support to anyone who may have similar care needs because their memory isn’t as reliable as it used to be, or whose memory is temporarily affected by illness.

Mr Bernard, who has been nominated for a Pride in Medway Award, will be at the hospital tomorrow (Friday) for the official opening of the eight-bed unit on Milton ward.

Amanda Gibson, matron for older people, said: “We’re very proud to be opening a dedicated unit to improve the way in which we care for patients with dementia – ensuring they have the specialists, facilities and dedicated care they need to support them during their hospital stay.

“This is the first milestone on our journey to improve dementia care.”

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