A PIONEERING hospital ward has officially opened its doors.

Hillingdon Hospitals NHS Trust is one of several trusts to win government funding to look at new ways of caring for and supporting patients with dementia.

The £845,000 project has created a dementia-friendly environment on Beaconsfield East, a 20-bed ward for elderly people with complex health conditions.

The unit was opened by Baroness Cumberlege, a former junior health minister, who praised the hospital for choosing “not to be overwhelmed by the challenge (of dementia) and to do something about it.”

She said: “My portfolio as a minister included end-of-life care, but it is the years before that which are the real challenge.

“Mending bones is easier than caring for people with broken minds and I have the utmost respect for staff working in this area of care.”

Associate Clinical Director Dr Julie Vowles added:“The new ward will allow us to provide better support to the older population, who are likely to have a higher incidence of dementia or confusion associated with infections and hospital stays.”

At present, more than 2,500 people live with the degenerative brain condition in Hillingdon and the figure is set to rise as the population’s longevity increases.

The revamped ward includes colour-coded walls for each bay, distinctive artwork above each bed and a general décor that is deliberately non-clinical. Familiar garden plants have been used as a theme to connect the artwork to garden spaces.

A new reception area has been created at the front of the ward, so that patients and visitors can speak to someone as soon as they arrive.

A day room means patients can join in with activity groups and eat meals together.