PSYCHOLOGISTS in the Engage programme at Salisbury District Hospital have been shortlisted for the national Patient Safety and Care Awards for the package of support and stimulation they use to help older adults in hospital.

The team, which recently expanded their programme to all wards and is now being used in other hospitals in the south of England, has been shortlisted in the Dementia Care category.

The Engage programme uses trained volunteers who provide support for patients during their hospital stay by visiting different wards and sitting with the patients, talking to them and using techniques such as quizzes, discussion groups and memory games that help keep patients motivated.

Salisbury District Hospital’s psychology co-ordinator Tora Mathias-Jones said: “Around 66 per cent of patients in hospital are aged 65 or over and need some form of short or long term care. We know that older people can often lose independence when they come into hospital and develop psychological problems such as anxiety and depression.

“More stimulation and social interaction can help to alleviate some of the problems that older people could face when they suddenly find themselves in an unfamiliar environment and our research suggests that the work of our volunteers can help improve levels of depression, anxiety and length of stay.”