Heart of Kent Hospice wins Dementia Friendly Kent Award

Heart of Kent Hospice is celebrating after winning in one category and receiving runner up in a second category at the Dementia Friendly Kent Awards last month.

During a ceremony at Oakwood House, Maidstone on Friday 20th October, Heart of Kent Hospice was presented with the Dementia Friendly Kent Award in the Small Specialised Organisation category. In addition, one of its Dementia Nurse Specialists, Tracy Jackson, was presented as runner up in the Emma Kent Award for Outstanding Contribution.

The Hospice launched its dementia service in September 2015 recognising the need to see people early in their diagnoses, helping them to live well and independently for as long as they can. Since its introduction, the service has received over 330 patient referrals and regularly supports over 200 dementia sufferers and their loved ones.

As well as helping with symptom control and providing practical advice with health, welfare, property and finance, the Hospice runs a monthly a Dementia Café where anyone can visit and share their experiences, ask questions and be introduced to other community agencies. The Hospice also has specific dementia kits which can be used to turn any of its 10 Inpatient rooms into a dementia friendly environment. The kits include signage for the rooms and ensuites, clocks displaying the date, day month, year and time and alarm equipment so staff are alerted if a patient leaves their bed or room.

Heart of Kent Hospice’s Dementia Nurse Specialists regularly visit patients in the community, giving expert advice on symptom control, medicine management and planning for the future, while carers are provided with information on managing challenging behaviour, nutrition and keeping their loved ones safe.

Tracy was appointed Lead Dementia Nurse Specialist following the launch of the service and has been pivotal in expanding and developing it, including encouraging the Hospice to accept dementia referrals from the point of a patient’s diagnosis rather than in the last year of their life so they and their loved ones can be supported through the illness

Tracy’s dedication to her patients was demonstrated when she changed her working hours to accommodate early morning or evening visits to reach family members and carers who work. She works closely with GPs and other health professionals, attends dementia meetings at Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells Hospital and is a member of the Dementia Kent Alliance - all to provide a seamless experience for her patients. And as well as teaching patients, families and other healthcare professionals she also trains volunteers in Heart of Kent Hospice’s shops to create dementia friendly environments.

According to Kerry Harrison, Director of Patient Services: “Our service is now established and we are delighted that other hospices are following suit. It’s wonderful to be recognised for the care and support we offer people with dementia and their families, and we are extremely grateful to Tracy and the rest of the team for helping the Hospice achieve this accolade.” For more information about Heart of Kent Hospice’s Dementia Service, please visit our dementia services web page

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