Improving the patient experience is always front of mind for health care teams at Langley Memorial. Never was that more evident than this month when Langley Memorial Hospital received five community-based innovation grants, made available through Fraser Health.

Over 120 proposals, submitted by care teams from across the Fraser Valley region, were reviewed by Fraser Health community and program executive directors and evaluated on their ability to improve a patient’s health care journey and to help build team capacity. In total, 40 project groups were awarded grants to test and develop their pilot programs.

Winning three of the five grants awarded to Langley Memorial, the residential care team now has funding to expand the Music and Memories program, create exit diversion murals, and install virtual aquariums, all with a goal of improving the well-being and quality of life of long-term residents, many of whom have dementia.

Music and Memories

Residents living with dementia can easily become confused, and that can present challenges for staff and family who want to engage them in meaningful conversations and social contact but struggle to find common ground, especially when that person can’t remember who they are. But music is a powerful tool that can create a bridge and create positive communications.

“Our residents come alive when they hear music they recognize,” says Bonnie Old, Clinical Nurse Educator for Langley Residential Services. “We can listen together during recreation time or at bed time.”

The Music and Memories program, with the support from the innovation grant, gives caregivers the tools to curate customized playlist with songs that are meaningful to each individual. Hearing songs from their past helps to invoke shareable memories and promotes a positive mental state.

“If they are able to sit down and listen to a song that is connected to a fond memory of their youth, for example, then an instant connection and maybe even a conversation is started,” says Old.

Exit Diversion Murals

Langley Memorial Hospital’s long-term residential care home is designed to feel as much like a home as possible. It has living rooms and outdoor gardens, but the doors are locked to prevent wandering – a common challenge for long-term care facilities whose residents are not well enough to safely leave the facility on their own.

“Residents don’t want to be restricted, and feel like prisoners, so it triggers negative behaviour,” explains Lourdes Lim, a residential care coordinator.

Residents often engage is what is known as “exit seeking” and stand behind doors and at elevator bays even if they don’t understand what to do with the exit. This puts patients in danger of being injured by someone who doesn’t know a resident is standing on the other side.

By painting doors and elevators with beautiful images staff can reduce accidents as well as the frustration exit seeking creates in residents.

“If they see a wall painting then they say, ‘very nice,’ and move on instead of seeing a door and thinking this is a door I can move through,” says Lim.

Virtual Aquariums

Five new virtual aquariums have also been approved through the innovation grants. These aquariums are Smart TVs that display calm, creative and interactive scenes of everything from fish to baby animals to scenes of the season and work to capture the attention and provide amusement for residents.

“A lot of times they forget that they asked a question,” explains residential care pharmacist, Janet Kadota. “The brain chemistry has changed, so they don’t know that they asked the same question 30 times.” With scenes that are easy to follow the aquariums will be a calming and enjoyable activity for residents. “If we can divert them for half an hour then it really helps.”

The scenes may even help start new conversations.

“It’s going to be a brand new story every time,” agrees music therapist, Cindy Gagne. “A TV show is very hard for residents with dementia. They have to remember steps or a commercial comes on and it’s quite confusing. Now, I’m going to see some social dialogue, like ‘that’s my cat that I used to have.’ I see that happening.”

Three innovative ideas with one common theme: creating meaningful moments for residents at Langley Memorial Hospital.