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Bracken-Scally, M;Keogh, B;Daly, L;Pittalis, C;Kennelly, B;Hynes, G;Gibb, M;Cole, N;McMahon, CG;Lawlor, B;McCarron, M;Brady, AM
Dementia: The International Journal Of Social Research And Practice
Assessing the impact of dementia inclusive environmental adjustment in the emergency department
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Objectives Acute hospitals, in particular the emergency department, can be disorienting for people living with dementia. As part of a larger project to improve care for people living with dementia, dementia-inclusive modifications were made to two emergency department bays in a large acute care hospital in Ireland. Modifications to spatial configuration included noise reduction, altered lighting and the addition of an orientation aid and fixed seating for relatives. Method A mixed methods approach was employed with both service user and service provider perspectives explored (survey of service providers (n = 16) and interviews with family carers (n = 10) at one time point and interviews with service providers (n = 8 and n = 5) and key stakeholders (n = 3) as well as audit data (at two time points) to evaluate the impact of the modifications made to the emergency department. Results Orientation and navigation within the modified bays were improved though technical issues with the orientation aid were highlighted. Further user information on the functionality of the adjustable lighting would be required to maximise its benefits. This lighting and use of calming colours, together with the addition of noise-reduction bay screens, served to reduce sensory stimulation. The provision of adequate space and seating for family carers was extremely beneficial. The removal of unnecessary equipment and use of new structures to store relevant clinical equipment were other positive changes implemented. A number of challenges in the design development of the modified bays were highlighted, as well as ongoing broader environmental challenges within the emergency department environment. Conclusion The findings suggest that the modified bays contributed positively to the experience of people living with dementia and their families in the emergency department.
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