Carols spread festive cheer at hospital

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Staff at Pinderfields Hospital sang carols and dressed in 1930s-style costumes to remind dementia patients of Happy Christmases of the past.

A team of 20 staff spread festive cheer at the hospital on Tuesday when they sang tunes including ‘O Little Town of Bethlehem’ and ‘Hark! The Herald Angels Sing’.

The concert was the brainchild of dementia support worker Clare Coleflax, who designed song books and along with her colleagues found vintage nurse uniforms.

Mrs Coleflax said: “Last year we dressed as Victorian carol singers, but this time we wanted to stimulate happy memories in our patients and remind them of Christmas from their childhoods.”

The elderly care Christmas Carol Concert was held in the Atrium at Pinderfields Hospitals on Tuesday afternoon.

Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust has been praised for the way it works with patients with dementia.

Pinderfields Hospital has reminiscence rooms full of memorabilia from the 1940s onwards and has a mural featuring a 1960s camper van and a scene from the Beatles’ Yellow Submarine.

Reminiscence and exploring patients’ life stories can benefit the well-being of people with dementia, according to the Alzheimer’s Society.

Reminiscence work can involve talking about things from the past, using prompts like photographs, familiar objects and music.

Anita Ruckledge, Mid Yorkshire’s dementia lead nurse, said: “When we sit and talk to our patients about the past they literally light up and begin to talk and smile again.

“Magazines and books can act as prompts to stimulate them and the films we play on our 1960s television relax and becalm them.

“I am not sure our concert will rival Carols from King’s but the uniforms will provoke memories and the presence of children and yuletide treats will make this a very Happy Christmas for patients at Pinderfields.”

Dementia is a set of symptoms which include memory loss and difficulties thinking, communicating and problem-solving.

It is a progressive condition caused when the brain is damaged by illnesses like Alzheimer’s or strokes.