Bringing the Community to Patients

Naomi Dyon stands next to a sign in the Behavioural Health Café. The sign says, “Welcome! Customer Appreciation Day. Free Drinks and Snacks!”

A new Behavioural Health Café at St. Peter’s Hospital is helping patients with dementia experience more social interaction.

“Eating and drinking at the Café replicates routines that our patients would have had in the community,” says Therapeutic Recreationist Naomi Dyon. “These activities provide an opportunity for meaningful connections between patients and caregivers.”

The goal of the Behavioural Health Unit is to transition patients into community settings after a 60-day inpatient stay. The Café helps patients adjust to life outside of a hospital setting.

Happy memories

“The space sparks positive memories for our patients, allowing them to engage in conversations,” explains Naomi. “As dementia care evolves, spaces like the Café will become a tool that’s more widely used in therapy.”

Patients in the unit often exhibit behaviours that are risky to themselves or those around them. The Café and other donor-funded amenities like a salon hair dryer help to ease these behaviours.

“This is the future of dementia care.”

“A recent study revealed that patients were less likely to exhibit vocal-responsive behaviours, such as calling out, yelling or noisemaking, when under a hair dryer,” says Naomi. “Re-creating a salon experience has also made it easier for staff to provide our patients with proper nail care, as many patients remember getting manicures in a salon. The warmth of the dryer is very relaxing and helps patients cope before and after activities they may find upsetting or unpleasant, like taking a shower.”

Future initiatives

Upcoming plans include the creation of a nursery with robotic dolls and a garden to enable horticulture therapy.

“This is the future of dementia care,” says Naomi. “Donors and fundraising events like the Masonic Beef & Corn Roast are providing these special environments to help patients engage with the world around them.”