Jan 13
Distraction boxes help patients at Dubbo Hospital

Dubbo Hospital would like to thank Dubbo Lions Club, who donated the money to purchase two portable lock and latch activity boxes, and members of the local Health Council, the Gilgandra Country Women's Association and Knit4Charities volunteers who have donated knitted and sewn items for new dementia distraction boxes.

Patients with dementia or cognitive impairment often become very unsettled and more confused than usual when in hospital, making their clinical management more difficult. Distraction boxes can assist these patients when they are admitted to hospital and have been organised as part of a Quality Improvement Project by Melissa Hanson, Emergency Clinical Nurse Specialist, and Cath Brady, Clinical Nurse Consultant in Aged Care.

Cath Brady said the distraction boxes provide activities that have a calming effect on patients with dementia or cognitive impairment.

“Items such as activity mats, aprons and pillows made of bright materials with buttons, zippers or ribbons to fiddle with have been designed to safely stimulate and soothe people with dementia," Ms Brady said.

“Other items in the box that could provide a distraction for the person with cognitive impairment are wooden puzzles, decks of cards (picture and number), bead mazes and magic cubes."

“Twiddle Muffs are knitted sleeves which can be used to cover IV cannulas and lines and can be useful in decreasing the number of dislodged cannulas in patients" Melissa Hanson, who was very involved in the implementation of this concept, said.

“A limited supply of these items can be found in the distraction boxes but they are single use and will require regular restocking."

“Falls are a major risk when managing the care of elderly patients in hospital, and this increases when caring for patients with dementia, as patients often become very unsettled and more confused and get up and wander more frequently," Ms Brady said.

“Providing quiet activities for them to do is beneficial in keeping them occupied, preventing them from falling or wandering and potentially sustaining injuries."

“A variety of activities enables choice appropriate to the individual person, keeping in mind that the same activity will not suit all individuals."

“We'd like to thank everyone who donated time and resources to help get the distraction boxes together. As a result of everyone's help, we now have full boxes of items for a couple of different units at Dubbo Hospital."

“Also a special thank you to Melissa, who has been instrumental in getting these distraction boxes filled and ready for use."

“Seeing the positive effect these activities have on patients is very rewarding. In turn, there is a positive impact on families and carers, as they see their loved ones more settled while in hospital."

The distraction boxes are primarily for dementia patients who need a distraction while in hospital, but can also be used by other patients requiring distraction.

Any donations to help assist with this project would be greatly appreciated, and interested community members should get in touch with Cath Brady by phoning Dubbo Hospital.