07:36AM, Thursday 09 January 2014
Adjustable mood lighting, a cinema playing classics from the golden age, and a £6,000 bed which can weigh you.
These are just some of the modern new features which will be on offer at the newly-refurbished Rowan Ward at Prospect Park Hospital opens its doors to dementia patients this week.
The state-of-the-art ward has had a complete redesign after receiving a large chunk of a £1m funding package awarded to the hospital in July.
The latest dementia research has been considered and everything from the colour scheme to the pictures on the wall have been thought of to ensure the best possible treatment.
But there is one pressing issue which still creates controversy about the new, improved ward - it is on the wrong side of Reading.
From today, Prospect Park will be the new home for dementia patients and staff from the closing Charles Ward at St Mark's Hospital in Maidenhead.
The move has been planned for some time, despite an Advertiser campaign to save Charles Ward, and, for now, just two patients will move to Rowan Ward.
But scepticism remains about the 20-plus miles relatives will have to travel to see family members referred there in future.
Bosses at the Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust (BHFT), which runs the ward, remain confident the doubters will be converted.
"This is exactly the sort of environment I would like my relative to be cared for in," said BHFT chairman John Hedger.
"It was the right thing to do.
"I'm not criticising Charles Ward in the slightest and I think it provided a great service.
"But I do think it's progress."
I was taken on a tour by senior nurse Lynne Renals-O'Kane, who has been working with the trust since 1996 and wrote the bid for the Government funding.
She knows her stuff.
A great deal of thought has gone into every detail, with a host of clever features to aid memory and comfort and a retro, but not old-fashioned feel to the ward.
A classic transistor radio is actually digital, a 1950s television is, in reality, a digital photo frame featuring images from Reading and Slough museums.
The cinema, believed to be the only one in a hospital in Europe, plays films from the 40s, 50s and 60s.
"The reason people come into hospital is not positive," said Lynne.
"This is about turning around this experience and saying we know you're here and that's not great but we are trying to get the best out of you coming here."
The ward is also exclusively a dementia facility, in contrast to Charles Ward, which treated other mental health conditions.
Those with 'functional' conditions, such as depression, will be moving to the neighbouring Orchid Ward, which has also been refurbished.
"This is best practice," said Lynne.
"With somebody that's very depressed you need quite high stimuli but with dementia you need low stimuli.
"Immediately you get a conflict."
Lynne said carers making the move from St Mark's have seen the new ward and given their seal of approval.
It remains to be seen whether patients and relatives will follow suit, but the trust makes a strong case.
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