Finding Sanctuary

This is my first blog in response to a prompt!

When thinking about the work I do with people with dementia, the word “sanctuary” brings images to me feeling safe and at peace. When someone with dementia is admitted to an acute hospital, these feelings are beyond their grasp.

Imagine being wheeled into a bustling, noisy, white room, with lots of voices and machines. You have no idea where you are or why you are there. People start asking you lots of questions, and you can’t tell them the answer. You may tell them what you think they want to hear “Oh, I’m fine dear”. You start to feel scared, as you don’t know what is expected of you. You’re attached to machines to trace your heartbeat, they take blood from you, ask you to “wee in a pot” – what is going on?

“I want to go home”

“You can’t go yet, the doctor needs to see you.”

“But there’s nothing wrong with me. Let me go home!”

All too often, scenes like these play out and end up with security being called to “manage” the situation. In a busy department, with someone becoming difficult to manage, surrounded by very unwell individuals, it is understandable that staff call security for assistance. However, it doesn’t need to get to that stage.

Our hospital does have Dementia Case Workers who can support people with dementia on admission and in the assessment unit. There are trolleys with activities to distract individuals. However, the environment itself needs addressing. A room where people can find “sanctuary”  within the assessment department would be ideal. Somewhere less clinical, with less stiumlation overload. Less noise and lighting. Quiet music. Sensory equipment to sooth them. In this situation, people would be more likely to want to eat, to take their medication, to be able to talk without the pressure and the fear.

We all need sanctuary, where we can feel safe and at peace. Where’s yours?

All good wishes,

x x x


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