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An Interview with the Winners of our Healthcare Bursary 2019

The winners of our 2019 Healthcare Bursary were Deborah Harris, Moira Norman and Olwen Bain-Brehaut, who received the top prize of £2000 to help fund their project, ‘Reminiscence Therapy for Patients with Cognitive Impairment’ (RITA). We caught up with project leader Deborah Harris to find out more about their amazing project and what it means to have won this years bursary…

Congratulations! How does it feel winning our Healthcare Bursary?

Myself, Moira and Olwyn are absolutely delighted to have won the Healthcare Bursary. There were so many brilliant ideas for this award, we feel very lucky and privileged to have received it.

How will the Bursary help your project, RITA, moving forwards?

We have been actively fundraising (our cake bake on Friday 29th November raised nearly £900). We’ve received some fabulous donations and winning the Bursary means we are now in a position to purchase the large RITA console and 2 of the smaller iPad size RITA modules. This means that we are going to be able to hold regular ward reminiscence therapy sessions with multiple service users throughout the hospital.

Will you have a team behind this project?

It will be a collaboration between our 3 medical wards with the Sister from each ward leading initially. As the initiative becomes established, we may need to think about establishing a dedicated team, but that is a little way off at the moment.

Ultimately, moving forward, this initiative has far reaching benefits to the community of the Balliwick of Guernsey and could have an extensive impact for dementia patients and their carers.

What are the next steps and when are you hoping to launch and get things started?

An order has been placed for the large RITA console and the 2 small RITAs and we are hoping to get delivery within the next 3–6 weeks. This means we will be able to start our Reminiscence therapy sessions in the New Year.

What impact are you hoping your RITA will have on patients in Guernsey?

There is a growing evidence base supporting the use of digital reminiscence therapy as a tool to improve the experience of patients in hospital and other care settings through generating interest, curiosity and conversation, and improving rapport-building, communication and engagement. Other benefits include reducing anxiety and agitation levels for distressed patients by providing a means of stimulation and distractions that can help with their symptoms. The introduction of RITA within the medical and rehabilitation wards will provide a much needed means of distraction as many patients become bored, unsettled and confused. It also helps assist with the sleep awake cycle as many patients who are unstimulated fall asleep for long periods during the day and become awake at night increasing the risk of falls in the dark. Evidence from NHS colleagues have shown a reduction in in-patient falls by 50% with the introduction of RITA. We are hoping to replicate the results being achieved in the UK using this therapy. Ultimately, moving forward, this initiative has far reaching benefits to the community of the Balliwick of Guernsey and could have an extensive impact for dementia patients and their carers.

Find out more about his years awards here


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