Free lectures at King’s College Hospital

This summer, King’s College Hospital is celebrating its centenary year at its current location in Denmark Hill. As part of these celebrations, King’s has been hosting a series of lectures open to the public as well as to GPs and medical students, discussing the achievements and advancements of care over the last 100 years.

Dr Alois Alzheimer

Dr Alois Alzheimer

King’s is a medical pioneer and the hospital is a leader in many clinical fields, one of which is dementia care and geriatric medicine. I attended the lecture on the history of dementia care which took place on 4th September.

The talk was given by Dr Catherine Bryant Consultant Geriatrician and Professor Stephen Jackson, Professor of Clinical Gerontology, and discussed how dementia care came into being and the prevalence of the condition in the UK.

Most of us will have heard of Alzheimer’s disease as it is the most common form of dementia in the UK and was named after Dr Alois Alzheimer who noticed chronic cognitive decline in one of his patients in 1906.

If we fast forward to the present day, it is reported that over 800,000 people in the UK have dementia and this is predicted to increase to over 1 million people by 2021! What’s perhaps more surprising, is that only 46% of people with dementia in the UK are actually diagnosed with the condition. This low rate of diagnosis means that over half of those with the illness could be living with the condition without a clear understanding of their symptoms, making the need for effective management of dementia all the more important.

So what is being done to support those with dementia?

alzheimer_brainThere are a number of initiatives across the UK which aim to support those with dementia and also provide assistance to carers. One of these initiatives are memory clinics, which support dementia patients by diagnosing memory problems, providing information and support for patients and carers and advice on the management options and services available.

These initiatives are just a small part in working with dementia patients, and the hospital environment also plays a role in the way people respond to treatment as a patient’s environment can trigger behavioural changes.

With this in mind, King’s is continuing to invest in the environment on the ward for people with dementia. Changes have been made such as to signs around the wards as black on yellow is easier for dementia patients to see. Seating areas have been implemented along corridors to provide places to rest and hand rails have been implemented along corridors.

The team at Kings have also developed a sensory activity room which is designed to relax and stimulate patients’ memory, with coloured lighting and scent atomisers which help to trigger associations and memories linked to that particular smell.

The multi-sensory room for people with dementia

The multi-sensory room for people with dementia

Colourful paintings have been used to improve the overall atmosphere of the ward but they also act as a tool to stimulate memories and discussion with patients. Everything in the ward has a dual purpose to help stimulate discussion with patients and trigger memories but also to make it a generally more pleasant environment.

As with the previous lecture, it was great to see members of the audience asking questions and I learned that dementia drugs can help 2 in 3 patients and for half of these there can be an improvement in cognitive and functional abilities. This can have a major impact on not only the patient but also the carers, helping to improve quality of life.

This talk provided a great insight into dementia care at King’s and outlined how they are working to improve the lives and care delivered to patients.

If you’re interested in attending one of the talks, the remaining lectures at King’s are on the following topics:

19th September (6-8pm, Boardroom, Hambleden Wing)

Talk by Professor Nigel Heaton, Consultant Liver Transplant Surgeon and Director of Transplant Surgery at King’s College Hospital on Liver Care – including a look at liver disease across London and the key milestones and medical advancements over the years, with a view on King’s as a leading unit for liver care today.

9th October (6-8pm, Boardroom Hambleden Wing)

Talk by Edward R. Howard, Emeritus Professor of Surgery on A Royal Progress: a short history of King’s College Hospital including the development of the most famous surgical department at the end of the 19th century, the evolution of specialist medical departments, King’s move to Denmark Hill and the relationship of the hospital with the Royal Family.

26th November (6-8pm, Boardroom Hambleden Wing)

Talk by Malcolm Tunnicliff, the Clinical Lead and Consultant in Emergency Medicine featured on 24 Hours in A&E, on the Emergency Department at King’s – including what life is like on such a busy ward and a brief history of how it has changed over the last 100 years, including an insight into the filming of Channel 4’s 24 Hours in A&E.

You can reserve your place using the email: KCHCentenary@toniclc.com or contact Carolyn Ruston on 0203 299 4186.


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  1. Kings College hospital holds much history for me and my family. My sister (who now lives in Australia) was born with a congenital heart defect in 1938, and when she was 15 she had one of the first open heart surgery operations performed in this country using a heart/lung machine which pumped blood from the body and kept you alive whilst the operation was performed. She then went on to have her first baby there, and not long after had another heart operation there. She emigrated to Australia when she was 38 and has just celebrated her 75th birthday and she was not expected to live that long a life.

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