Patients with dementia are benefiting from a unique collaboration between staff from Bangor University and Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board.

The partnership, which is thought to be the first of its kind in the UK, is helping frontline NHS staff design new ways of delivering care.

It has seen Bangor University students use a specialist branch of psychology called Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) to improve patient care. ABA involves an attentive observation of the person with dementia and their behaviours and the meticulous collection and analysis of data. This is then used to design interventions that will address that person’s individual needs.

Their work has already led to a number of improvements, including changes in the way that furniture is positioned on hospital wards and changes to how meals are served to encourage social interaction.

Now, following research conducted by ABA students and clinical psychology trainees at Cemlyn ward, Cefni Hospital on Anglesey, staff working on BCUHB’s Older Persons Mental Health Wards are to adopt new ‘dementia friendly’ name badges to help to build relationships between staff and patients.

This is an adaptation to the national ‘Hello, my name is’ initiative that BCUHB is also committed to.

The new badges, which use a large black font on a high contrast yellow background, have been specifically designed to make them easier for patients with dementia to read. They have been introduced following concerns that names of staff are difficult to remember by people with dementia and that the information shown on traditional NHS name badges is complex and difficult for patients with dementia to read.

The findings of the study on Cemlyn ward showed that the introduction of ‘dementia friendly’ name badges increased patients’ use of staff names, and helped to build relationships between patients, their family members and staff.

The partnership was set up by Dr Carolien Lamers, Consultant Clinical Psychologist who works for BCUHB and Bangor University and Dr Rebecca Sharp, Director of the Masters in Applied Behaviour Analysis at Bangor University’s School of Psychology.

Dr Sharp said: “This is a wonderful opportunity for students to be at the forefront of using behavioural approaches, whilst working collaboratively with staff to find innovative ways to support patients with dementia on the ward.”
Dr Lamers added: “ABA as a specialist branch of psychology has a lot to offer to help staff develop different approaches for patients with dementia, who require the specialist care of an inpatient setting. We are very pleased that following our research on Cemlyn ward, these new name badges are set to be rolled out to other Older Persons Mental Health Wards across North Wales.”

Michelle Dickinson, Interim Modern Matron on Cemlyn Ward, said: “They are a fantastic example of a small, low cost change that can make a big difference to the experience of patients and families.”

Steve Forsyth, BCUHB’s Director of Mental Health Nursing, said the new name badges were just one of a number of changes introduced as a result of the health board’s TODAYICAN quality improvement methodology, which aims to better value patient and staff time.

He said: “These new name badges will help to better utilise the time patients spend with us in hospital by making it easier for them to build therapeutic relationships with our staff. It’s a wonderful example of a simple, small change can make a real difference and we’re very grateful to the ABA students for their ongoing support.”