‘Front Door Project’ for dementia patients.

Posted on 7th June 2017

A first year Nursing student at the University of Chester has implemented a therapeutic project for elderly people suffering with illnesses such as dementia and depression at her local hospital.

Left to right: Gemma Colley, Ward Sister Olivia Card; Ward Manager Sharon Pentony and Stefanie Marsh
Left to right: Gemma Colley, Ward Sister Olivia Card; Ward Manager Sharon Pentony and Stefanie Marsh

Gemma Colley, aged 20, from Jersey, studies Adult Nursing and works as a bank Health Care Assistant. She was inspired to make a difference to the long-term mental health ward at her local hospital, St Saviour’s in Jersey. 

Maple Ward looks after patients with various long-term mental health conditions, such as depression, anxiety and dementia. Following conversations regarding how to create a more therapeutic environment, Gemma’s concept for the project was to have individualised front doors for each resident’s bedroom on the Ward. 

Gemma said: “This was an important project for the patients as it makes the Ward more homely and comforting. The doors also help the patients with navigation, identification and sensory stimulation.” 

She added: “After I did some research into ‘dementia doors’, I presented the idea to the Ward Manager, Sharon Pentony, and Ward Sister, Olivia Card, who both approved. I then approached my best friend Stefanie Marsh who is a local artist.” 

Stefanie said: “Working with Gemma was great fun, she gave me advice about things to consider when designing the doors for mental health patients, and she worked from the ground up learning all the different aspects of creating a painted work with me from start to finish. I think we made a great team! Painting on the Ward was a pleasure and I learned a lot about the daily lives of the patients and the dedicated staff that care for them.” 

Brightly coloured ‘front doors’ are now a permanent feature on the Ward and have created a more colourful and positive environment for those living there. Gemma spent time gathering materials and completing paperwork before helping Stefanie design and paint the doors. 

Gemma said: “The project took months to plan, but only three weeks to implement. All the work was done on a voluntary basis.” 

Sister Olivia Card, from the Maple Ward, added: “Everyone at Maple Ward is delighted with this project, and I’d like to thank Gemma and Stefanie for their work to make this a reality. We do all we can to make our patient care as personal as possible, and the new doors only add to that.” 

Julie Dulson, Director of Pre-registration Nursing at the University of Chester, said: “We are extremely proud of Gemma's work on this highly innovative and creative project, which she has undertaken in her own time to improve the experience of those diagnosed with dementia.”