ECL Chelmsford - the gold standard in dementia care

After 18-months of careful planning and hard work, ECL Chelmsford (Charles Dickens) has become the first site in Essex to be awarded Gold accreditation from the Dementia Services Development Centre at the University of Stirling.

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Already highly experienced in providing specialist dementia care, the ECL team at the Older People Day Service in Chelmsford were keen to transform the environment to make it more accessible and engaging for those living with Alzheimer’s and early through to late stages of dementia. Their efforts have now been recognised with the highly regarded dementia design audit certificate, which acknowledges the impressive steps taken to create a safe and welcoming dementia-friendly space.

Thanks to a sizeable investment, ECL Chelmsford’s experienced staff are now able to provide their exceptional level of care to customers living with Alzheimer’s, frontal temporal dementia, lobe dementia, vascular dementia, dementia with Lewy bodies, and Parkinson’s disease related dementia in fantastic new surroundings. Special consideration was given to the selection of flooring and lighting, as well as the provision of life-size way finders, additional safety measures and the choice of bright, bold colours for easier navigation.

The dementia care team understand the importance of maintaining a person’s independence for as long as possible, so customers are now able to explore the building knowing that they are completely secure. With key worker support readily available, they are able walk freely between the doll therapy room (doll therapy has been shown to reduce the need to administer anxiety medication), dining room, year-round sensory garden, and enclosed outdoor garden space. Meanwhile, the activities area hosts dementia-inclusive workshops which seek to promote interaction and physical wellness, as well as encouraging reminiscence and the preservation of vital connections to loved ones.

As a result of the makeover, customers have experienced a reduction in anxiety and agitation, as well as an increase in independence. However, the changes have not only benefitted the person living with dementia. The revamp has also given a boost to their family and friends who can be confident that their loved one is receiving excellent care in an environment that has been specifically designed to respond to their developing needs.

In light of the success achieved by ECL Chelmsford, several other ECL Older People Day Services are now eyeing accreditation, with work underway to transform the dementia day care services at Marylands in Colchester and Millicents in Clacton.

The ECL Chelmsford - Charles Dickens Day Service is an impressive and impactful specialist dementia day service. Despite the relatively small size of the centre, DSDC Auditors were very impressed by the centre's approach to creating inviting, dementia-inclusive spaces which offer a variety of meaningful activities. The team at the Charles Dickens were clearly very passionate about ensuring their centre was designed to support people with dementia. They embraced the most recent evidence-based dementia-design principles (our Dementia-Design Audit Tool) and took on the challenge of obtaining a 'Gold' accreditation within an existing building. This is not an easy task, but they did it! I commend them on achieving this level of excellence.

Lesley Palmer, Chief Architect, Dementia Services Development Centre

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