Two wards at Alderney Hospital in Poole are leading the way in helping elderly dementia patients spend their final days in dignity and peace.

Staff working on Herm and St. Brelades wards have been awarded Gold Standard Framework (GSF) accreditation – making them the first elderly care mental health units in the country to earn the status.

The GSF is the UK’s leading training provider for frontline staff working in end of life care, and has commended Alderney and other hospitals run by Dorset HealthCare for making a “huge difference” to the lives of patients and their families.

Herm and St Brelades staff look after people with dementia who are nearing the end of their lives. Having completed the GSF Community Hospitals Training Programme, they were assessed by a panel of independent experts.

The panel found that not only did patients receive the care they wanted, where they wanted it, but also that relatives had peace of mind and staff an increased sense of job satisfaction.

Clinical Team Lead Rachel Hewitt said: “As a result of conversations with families, our approach is a lot more personal. This means the patient experience is better and loved ones feel much more supported through the whole process.

“Staff also feel more confident and have a better understanding of the human side of dying. When deaths do occur on the wards it’s not as distressing, and we feel we have done everything possible to provide that person with a comfortable, peaceful and pain-free death.”

Herm Ward manager Chris Clarke added: “Since we started the GSF programme, not a single patient has been transferred to a general hospital to die. In fact, we are now able to offer patients and their families a range of options in line with their wishes, whether to stay here, go into a care home or go to their own home to die.”

Wards across the Trust are no stranger to GSF recognition for delivering excellent end of life care.

Earlier this year, Hanham Ward at Wimborne and Radipole Ward at Weymouth’s Westhaven Hospital earned the accreditation.

And they all follow in the footsteps of other wards at Alderney, Shaftesbury, Swanage, Wareham, Portland, Blandford and Sherborne hospitals which have achieved GSF status over the last couple of years.

GSF National Clinical Director Professor Keri Thomas said: “Community hospitals in Dorset are making a huge difference to the lives of patients and their families.

“There is no greater service they can provide than supporting people every step of the way along this difficult journey. Through dedicated, planned and coordinated care, these wards are ensuring more people are living and dying according to their wishes.”