SIGNIFICANT work to improve a Dunfermline dementia ward has been carried out after a string of recommendations were made following an unannounced inspection.

The Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland attended at Ward One at Queen Margaret Hospital last year following a visit in 2016 when inspectors expressed concern that the ward environment was "not fit for purpose" and required a full refurbishment.

After the latest visit in October, corridors in the unit were described as "stark and bleak" while concerns were raised that patients would not be able to find their rooms because of a lack of signage.

A shared outdoor space was not considered "dementia friendly" as it has many trip and fall hazards.

"There was a lack of comfortable seating with no access to any shelter," stated the report. "The ground on the day of our visit was littered with cigarette ends and the area did little to invite patients to spend time outdoors.

"We heard this was an ongoing situation and a source of frustration for staff, as they were keen to support their patients to have access to fresh air, and enjoy the opportunities that come with having a ‘dementia friendly’ therapeutic and recreational outdoor space."

The inspector said the ward's physical environment had not been adapted to meet the needs of patients with dementia or conditions related to cognitive impairment.

"We would have expected to see a ward that took into account the sensory needs of patients, including dementia appropriate flooring, lighting, signage, single bedrooms with en-suite bathroom facilities and social spaces for patients to rest or engage in pastimes," they explained.

"The single bedrooms and dormitories were not personalised and we would have liked to have seen patients have some possessions that were important to them.

"The main corridors were stark and bleak, with little or no visible signage, therefore it would be difficult for patients to find their own bedrooms, bathrooms or sitting areas.

"The flooring in the sitting/dining room was heavily stained, with wear and tear clearly evident."

The inspector said they were "encouraged" to hear of the work carried out between the hospital in-patient services and their colleagues in the local authority.

Rona Laskowski, Head of Complex and Critical Care Services, Fife Health and Social Care Partnership, explained the MWC inspection report followed a standard visit from them over six months ago, in October 2022.

She adds: “Following the visit, we compiled and submitted a detailed action plan to MWC which we began to implement immediately.

“Improvements in that action plan include a significant programme of works to refurbish this ward, in addition to the investments being made in other areas of Queen Margaret Hospital.

“Specifically in the ward referenced, investment has been made to ensure dementia friendly improvements to the physical and therapeutic environment.

“This has including decoration and new flooring in the main corridor and purchase of dementia friendly activities.

“We are also in the process of developing a new dementia-friendly garden area, specifically for this patient group.

“There has also been a review and refresh of the induction process to ensure that all staff feel confident and familiar with their work environment as part of the action plan too.

“The investigation in 2022 was undertaken in accordance with the NHS Scotland Whistleblowing Policy and National Whistleblowing Standards with improvements identified and implemented and the matter reported through due governance.”