The Bishop of Wakefield Tony Robinson has become Pinderfields Hospital’s first elderly care ambassador.
Bishop Tony visited the hospital, where he toured the wards, joined in a patients’ Valentine’s party and visited a reminiscence room designed to provoke happy memories for those living with dementia.
His new ambassador role will see him promoting the message that health care for older folks matters.
The Church of England already organises dementia friendly acts of worship and parish travel rotas, which enable elderly residents who are immobile to attend church.
Bishop Tony said: “There have been such great improvements in elderly care but conditions like dementia can be heartbreaking. We need to show compassion for patients and indeed the carers who often take the strain on their behalf.”
Bishop Tony also saw the hospital’s new family support rooms. Furnished and decorated so they do not look like a clinical setting, the rooms are the first of their kind in the UK and allow loved ones to be with patients during times of crisis.
The idea of elderly care ambassadors came from Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust lead dementia nurse, Anita Ruckledge. The trust will be recruiting more over the coming months.
Nurse Ruckledge said: “It is wonderful that the public support children’s wards, especially at Christmas, but that compassion doesn’t always extend to the elderly. Yet they are just as vulnerable and are less likely to be surrounded by visitors and family.
David Melia, acting chief nurse at the trust, said: “We believe that Bishop Tony and all of the ambassadors we recruit over the next few months will spread a message of hope to the community that quality care exists at their local hospital for older patients.”