Val Haylett retired in 2014 from working in the NHS after 26 years, having been the Co-ordinator for the Pulvertaft Hand Unit at Royal Derby Hospital. In 2017 she became a Public Governor for the City of Derby.
As part of her remit she attended various groups and committees. One such is the Dementia Steering Group. Representatives on the group range from Matrons, nursing and therapy staff, mental health liaison team members, Alzheimer’s society members, social services, clinical commissioning group etc, – a wide ranging group who work under very difficult circumstances.
At a meeting in November 2017 the radiology staff and therapy staff explained how difficult it was sometimes when dealing with distressed and anxious dementia patients; trying to coax them into the MRI tunnel machine and getting them to stay still. After listening to their stories, Val explained that for some years she had been taking TLC Bears to Children’s A&E and Children’s Wards and the Pulvertaft Hand Unit. When children became distressed and anxious the bears helped to calm them down and soothe them, and it occurred to her that the bears might do the same for the Dementia patients. It had never been tried before so she suggested that they had 2 bags of bears as a trial. Very quickly she was getting responses saying how well received the bears had been by patients, staff and carers alike.
She then contacted Graham Sisson to say she had used some TLC bears, not for the purpose intended, but that it was done with good intentions and wondered if there was a way ahead to use the bears for this good cause. Graham recommended that a request be put in for approval and funding from the Provincial Grand Charity. The outcome was a ring-fenced amount of £1000 to provide TLC bears for an initial one-year trial. The bears are for use across the eight wards which look after Dementia patients at the London Road Community Hospital and Royal Derby Hospital sites and potentially at some of the 106 outpatient clinics. The bears are stored centrally and individual areas are replenished as necessary.
As well as the TLC bears the staff use Dementia baby dolls, cats and dogs. These are weighted and lifelike. Cost per unit is anything from £70-200 so the department can’t afford to use these in all areas and circumstances. It had been proven that these “toys” can alleviate agitation, stress and anxiety. They also have memory boxes which staff and carers can use with patients. The boxes vary from sport boxes, music from various eras and work-place memories. These can distract the patient and often stimulate conversation. They are also hoping to purchase some tablets to put on patients’ favourite memory music for them to play, i.e. music from their wedding or music they used to dance to. It has been proved that this definitely calms agitated and confused patients and takes them to happier times.
Spencer Lodge became aware of the needs of the department and made a splendid donation of £1500 to assist in the cost of obtaining these important items.
Presenting the cheque from Spencer Lodge were Nick Fox ( Worshipful Master ) Michael Framp ( Lodge Secretary ) Paul Mansfield ( Charity Steward ) Alan Smith and Roger Haylett ( Past Masters of the Lodge )
The Right Worshipful Provincial Grand Master for Derbyshire Steven Varley was in attendance to mark this important occasion, along with W Bro Michael Hitchcock, Provincial Grand Charity Steward.
The Butterfly Fund was represented by Val Haylett, Hospital Governor for the City of Derby, Suzanne Roberts, Lead Dementia Nurse and Marie Gretton, Communication and Fundraising Officer.
At the same time two large bags of TLC Teddy Bears were presented which no doubt will be put to good use.
The hospital is training staff to be Dementia aware and Dementia Friendly. They also wish to train members of the public and have been actively doing so. Everyone who has been on the Dementia Friendly course receives a Forget- me-not Badge. The Butterfly Fund is to be renamed The Forget-me-not Fund, this being perhaps more appropriate as there is a Forget-me-not flower symbol on their name boards above their bed if they are Dementia patients. This is a way of making staff and visitors discreetly aware of difficulties the patient may be having.