Chairman of Cwm Taf University Health Board Marcus Longley officially opened the dementia-friendly Duffryn Suite at Ysbyty Cwm Cynon in Mountain Ash.
The Mountain Ash RFC choir marked the occasion with songs in the hospital’s atrium.
Changes to the routine on the ward one at the hospital focus on individual care.
Patients wake up naturally in their own time and can do activities that are meaningful to them.
A redesigned dayroom resembles a home, seeking to normalise daily life.
Comfortable seating, a new natural colour scheme also enabled a change in atmosphere on the ward where patients are calmer and happier.
Mr Longley told staff: “I am just three weeks into my job, to have the opportunity to mark the start of something like this and to pay tribute to the work of the staff is fantastic.
“Many of us from our families and personal experience know how traumatic it can be to go into hospital, how different for the patients and their families. If we can make life a lot more normal we see immediately what impact that has on people.
“Doing this for your patients required imagination and passion and it is absolutely fantastic. This is, I think, what the health service is all about.”
The aim of the changes is to ensure that people living with dementia feel safe and listened to, valued and respected.
They can also get the help that they need, do the things that matter to them and live in a place that suits them and their lives.
Ward manager Julia Morris said that there were more people with dementia coming into hospital and the team wanted an area where their patients could be stimulated.
“It’s made a vast difference,” she said. “The patients really enjoy the activities that we put on during the day, including bingo, knitting, colouring, or watching films or listening to music. A few weeks ago we had ‘Elvis’ in to sing songs they recognised.
“It has all come together, the atmosphere has changed on the ward and it is a lot calmer, everyone is so much happier.”
The changes are similar to those at Ysbyty Cwm Rhondda and Ysbyty George Thomas which were well received by patients, families and carers.