A former mayor of Barnet helped to celebrate the opening of Larch Ward as a dementia-friendly environment yesterday.

Brian Schama, who as Mayor of Barnet in 2012 donated £46,000 to dementia care at Barnet Hospital, said he was delighted with the way the ward had been transformed.

Larch Ward has three bays, each of which are clearly defined by a theme: beach, countryside and London. Different primary colours give patients a sense of place and create an environment that is easier to navigate. There are also skylights in each of the bays. The ward has enhanced lighting and signage, clearly visible calendars, day/night clocks and positioned grab rails. Wood flooring has been laid, as lino can appear wet or slippery to patients with dementia. The communal area has a ‘tip tree’ table in place, which is brightly coloured and set out with activities and drinks to help the patients stay hydrated.

It cost a total of £300,000 to transform Larch Ward and the idea was kicked off by the donation from the Mayor of Barnet’s charitable fund. Mr Schama said he knew the number of hospital patients with dementia was growing so it was important that they were given the right care.

He said: “Back in 2012 25% of patients in hospitals had dementia and as we are all living longer this is a growing problem. So it’s been a real pleasure to see how the money raised has been so well used.”

Dr David Levy, service line lead for elderly medicine, said: “We are very thankful to Mr Schama for sparking this idea many years ago. It’s a pleasure to see it come to fruition. You can see how wonderful the ward looks and as they finished each bay it was clear the impact it was having. It’s a wonderful environment to be in – we have been getting lots of comments from patients and from their relatives about it and staff morale is at an all-time high.”


Image: Top, Brian Schama and his wife Lynda are shown around Larch by ward sister Kate Hennessey. Bottom, dignitaries are show around Larch Ward.

Notes to editors

Media contacts: mary.mcconnell2@nhs.net or call 020 7472 6665

About the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust

The Royal Free began as a pioneering organisation and continues to play a leading role in the care of patients. Our mission is to provide world class expertise and local care. In the 21st century, the Royal Free London continues to lead improvements in healthcare.

The Royal Free London attracts patients from across the country and beyond to its specialist services in liver and kidney transplantation, haemophilia, renal care, HIV, infectious diseases, plastic surgery, immunology, Parkinson's disease, vascular surgery, cardiology, amyloidosis and scleroderma and we are a member of the academic health science partnership UCLPartners.

In July 2014 Barnet Hospital and Chase Farm Hospital became part of the Royal Free London. Read 'A bigger trust, a better future'.