Patients can be transported back to Hampstead High Street in the 1970s thanks to the refurbishment of a ward at the Royal Free Hospital.

Staff, volunteers and representatives of the local community, celebrated the opening of the newly refurbished dementia-friendly ward at the hospital earlier this month. 

The refurbishment on 10 North ward has transformed the clinical area into a therapeutic and reminiscence space for elderly patients. This renovation is the first of its kind at the Royal Free Hospital. 

The corridor walls, which show headlines from the past, can be used to stimulate conversation and memories. The patient day room has also been transformed into a living-dining room complete with a fireplace, dining tables and a TV playing hit films from the 60’s and 70’s.

The ward is also equipped with a post box, bus stop and a working hair salon, so patients can experience familiar settings during their recovery.  

Danielle Wilde, trust dementia lead, said: “People with dementia need something different from a regular hospital ward. Our main priority is to diagnose and treat our patients. For a person with dementia however, their main priority is about establishing where they are, who we are and what we are going to do. And so our main challenge is to build a world in which we can communicate with them and build a relationship.

“This new ward environment is almost like a set – it creates the perfect space to perform those interactions and form the connections that are essential in the care of dementia patients.”

Eduarda, ward sister, said: “The designs were chosen by our patients and our multi-disciplinary team on 10 North.” 

The refurbishment of the ward was funded through Camden’s Community Infrastructure Levy and the support of the Royal Free Charity and the clinical and executive teams at the Royal Free London. 

Chair of the Hampstead Neighbourhood Forum, Janine Griffis, who led the public consultation on the use of the fund said: “The public chose to spend the fund here – three quarters of people who responded to the consultation supported using the money on this project.”

The work on 10 North ward builds on the trust’s commitment to deliver world-class dementia care and follows the refurbishment of Larch ward at Barnet Hospital and the dementia-therapy gardens at Chase Farm Hospital.