A group of people living with dementia have visited a Penarth hospice to find out about a terminal illness charity’s services – and to give staff tips on making it a dementia friendly community.

The Service User Review Panel from Gwent and their carers, who are supported by the Alzheimer’s Society, headed to the Marie Curie Cardiff and the Vale Hospice in July, where they met with both clinical and non-clinical staff to give advice on the hospice becoming a Dementia Friendly community.

Marie Curie provides round-the-clock care and support for people living with a terminal illness, and their families, at its Bridgeman Road facility.

Following a tour of the hospice, there was a meet and greet for the visitors and a Q and A session where the visitors answered questions from hospice staff about supporting people with dementia.

Monica Reardon, who leads the Including Diverse Communities in End of Life Care project, is aiming to ensure the hospice secures Dementia Friendly status, and invited the group along to help put a plan of action together to achieve this.

The group fed back that white walls were too clinical, and colour on some walls would help give the hospice a more homely feel. They loved the décor in the hospice’s day therapy unit, and said the vibrant colours were stimulating.

Discussions were also held around crockery for people living with dementia at meal times, signs around the hospice being visual as well as literal and flooring being less patterned in bathrooms.

During the Q and A session, discussions were held around what would make someone living with dementia – and their carer – feel the hospice was safe and secure, and how they would want staff to discuss plans for future care.

“It was important to us to work with this group in putting together our dementia friendly plan,” said Monica.

“So it’s not that this is what we’ve read and this is what we think people would find challenging or difficult, but actually, this is what people have told us. That involvement is really important to us.”

Linda Willis, Alzheimer’s Society Ambassador and member of the Service User Review Panel in Gwent, said: “We like being involved and it means a lot to us to be asked for our opinions.

“People think they know what we are thinking, but it’s not always what we are thinking, so it’s great that we’ve been able to give advice to help the hospice work towards being Dementia Friendly.”

Sue Phelps, Director of Alzheimer’s Society Cymru added: “It’s great that our Service User Review Panel were all invited to visit and have an input into the environment of the hospice to ensure that it is dementia-friendly.

“Our partnership with Marie Curie reflects the importance we place on recognising dementia as a terminal condition and the need for compassionate, person-centred care and advanced care planning to best support people affected by dementia who are at the latter stages of the condition.

“We would also encourage staff to receive dementia-specific training to develop their understanding in order to effectively adapt care plans.”