SpaMedica introduces new scheme to support patients with disabilities and dementia
The initiative includes picture books illustrating the patient journey
28 February 2022
SpaMedica has rolled out a new initiative to provide more tailored support for patients with disabilities or healthcare conditions, such as dementia, who require cataract surgery.
Picture books and personalised tools have been produced to support NHS patients undergoing cataract surgery who find it difficult to read or understand the standard materials used to describe the surgery.
The new approach has been introduced across SpaMedica’s 37 hospitals.
The scheme was initiated by two healthcare workers at SpaMedica’s Newcaste-Under-Lyme hospital: registered nurse Kerry Harrison, and senior healthcare technician Hannah Young.
“Every patient is different,” Harrison commented: “Although they go through the same procedure, we might have a patient with mobility problems, or they might have dementia, or maybe there’s a language barrier. What is critical is our commitment to treat everyone as an individual.”
Prior to joining SpaMedica, Young had experience as a carer in a specialist home for people with dementia. She explained that, while there was some specialised care in place, “I felt like something more could be done that would guarantee that specific needs are identified early on, ensuring that the patient is 100% supported.”
As part of the initiative, Harrison and Young designed new picture books to describe the patient journey from pre-assessment, to surgery, to post-op care, using photographs taken around the hospital.
“We didn’t expect it to go around the entire business,” Young said. “It’s gone so far from an idea in my head. It’s making such a difference to patients.”
She explained that a patient with disabilities had visited the hospital soon after the picture books had been made, and who “hadn’t slept for two days because he was so worried about coming.”
The patient shared that he didn’t always understand what was happening, Young said, adding: “By seeing it for himself in this picture book, it helped him to relax. And he was able to keep referring to it when he became anxious.”
Harrison shared an experience that stood out to her, where a patient with learning disabilities attended for an appointment, and was unable to read the standard materials used to describe the process.
Her social worker assisted by setting an alarm on her mobile for her, which prompted her to watch the video every day. It meant she could handle her post-surgery care herself and keep a sense of independence, which is hugely important
“Rather than follow what would be a traditional pre-assessment for her, we tailored our care and did a completely different assessment, which focused on her emotional needs and any triggers that might make her upset,” Harrison said. “That’s when I realised there was an opportunity to introduce a more bespoke and flexible model that would make a real difference to patients who need our care and attention the most.”
Recognising that the patient would be unable to read the discharge instruction leaflet, the team developed a personalised video to describe and demonstrate post-operative care.
Harrison added: “Her social worker assisted by setting an alarm on her mobile for her, which prompted her to watch the video every day. It meant she could handle her post-surgery care herself and keep a sense of independence, which is hugely important.”
Commenting on the development of the new initiative, Harrison shared: “If we can accommodate those who are more vulnerable and ensure their experience is top level, then that's what we’ll do. It’s about giving them emotional support as well as physical.”