'This is me' is a simple and practical tool that carers can give to staff when a person with dementia goes into hospital. It contains information about the person behind the dementia - for example, what they like to eat and drink, what name they like to be called, if they have a tendency to walk about, what might make them agitated and help them to relax.
Comedian and former psychiatric nurse, Jo Brand, is supporting the campaign,
'I was strongly affected by the time I spent working on a hospital ward with people who had dementia. I experienced first hand how frightened and agitated they can become. Unusual behaviour, such as walking about, is what nurses find the most difficult about working with people with dementia. 'This is me' will enable staff to see the person with dementia as an individual and respond to their needs, which can reduce agitation and distress.'
A person with dementia may have difficulty communicating, so cannot say that they find chewing difficult, or are a vegetarian. Telling staff in advance about their needs can make all the different in preventing malnutrition and dehydration.
Actor Kevin Whately's mother had dementia, he says,
'My mother became very ill in hospital. Someone would bring her a tray of food then collect it untouched because she'd forgotten to eat it. I think if staff had had access to a leaflet like this they would have known that she needed encouragement to eat the food and maybe she wouldn't have become so weak.'
Andrew Ketteringham, Director of External Affairs at Alzheimer's Society, says,
'People with dementia are staying too long in hospital and many are discharged in worse health than when they arrived. But we know that no one goes into nursing wanting to do a poor job; rather, staff are often not equipped to care for people with dementia. We hope 'This is me' will support staff to provide the best possible person centred dementia care, by helping them to get to know the individual and understand their needs.'