ExCel Appeal: Key dementia kit can help stimulate elderly patients

Launch of the EDP / QEH Excel Appeal at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. Picture: Matthew Usher.

Launch of the EDP / QEH Excel Appeal at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. Picture: Matthew Usher.

It may only be a 30-minute activity but it can make the world of difference to an elderly patient.

With a piece of new software patients in the early or later stages of Alzheimer's and dementia can press a button and suddenly be swept away down memory lane to footage of past treasures such as Fawlty Towers, Dad's Army, Morecombe and Wise, and Gone with the Wind.

The software, known as My Life, provides a touch-screen interactive system which can be used at the patient's bedside or in relaxation rooms, and contains a huge range of photographs, video clips, and music, dating back to the 1930s as well as giving nurses and support workers the chance to record more in-depth patient information.

As part of its Excel Appeal, supported by the EDP, the Queen Elizabeth Hospital King's Lynn wants to raise funds to buy editions of the software for its West Newton and Windsor wards, in which predominently elderly patients are housed.

The software aims to stimulate elderly patients, some of whom may be in the early or later stages of brain deterioration.

The largest age group of in-patients at Queen Elizabeth Hospital are 71- to 80-year- olds, with 6,172 people in that age group being treated in 2014/15.

The second largest age group is 81- to 90-year-olds (6,053).

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Many of those patients will have or develop dementia or Alzheimer's, making the My Life software a key part of treatment for a large proportion of patients.

Sarah Reed, mental health liaison sister at Queen Elizabeth Hospital King's Lynn, said: 'The difference the software can make to a patient's cognitive skills and quality of life is amazing.

'It's all about patient-centred care, making sure the patient feels like a person, not a number in a hospital bed.'

And while the benefits of the videos, music, and games provided by the software are clear, the computer also allows staff to add vital information such as a patient's food and drink preferences.

In addition, families can sit with their parents or grandparents and create photo-books filled with family pictures or other memories from the past, Mrs Reed said.

'Even if they don't know or remember what they are looking at, patients still get a feeling of contentment and that stays with them,' she added.

'That helps their general health.'

But the software is not cheap, costing around £5,000 per computer.

You can help fundraise in a variety of ways – and we are keen for you to get in touch so we can promote your fundraising events.

To donate to the appeal, visit www.justgiving.com/qehkl-excelappeal or pay by cheque: payable to 'Excel Appeal' and send to Laurence Morlaàs, Fundraising Executive, QEH, Gayton Road, King's Lynn PE30 4ET.

Do you have a health story? Email nicholas.carding@archant.co.uk