Bradford Teaching Hospital’s design for the refurbishment of two of its wards, undertaken to improve the hospital environment for elderly patients suffering from dementia, has won a national award.

The team were named winners of the 2012 Building Better Healthcare (BBH) award for best interior design project. These are the main UK awards for healthcare building and design.

The nationally acclaimed ‘Enhancing the Healing Environment’ project to transform wards 23 and 29 at Bradford Royal Infirmary was the largest refurbishment of its kind for patients with dementia in an NHS hospital.

It saw the Foundation Trust invest more than £450,000, with a further £50,000 awarded from The King’s Fund, towards upgrading facilities to create a more calming space to influence patient behaviour and improve the wards for patients with dementia, visitors and their families.

The judges described the team’s efforts as a “breath of fresh air” and said: “... the patients are definitely calmer and happier. It is a very good example of using knowledge and experience to create a very human environment.”

The award ceremony took place at The Brewery, London, where team members Shane Embleton, of the estates department, and Debbie Beaumont, of elderly care, picked up the prize on behalf of their colleagues.

Mr Embleton said: “Whilst we were very surprised and shocked at being told we’d won the top prize, everyone in the team is immensely proud of our achievements; achievements that would not have been possible without the support of the Foundation Trust, The King’s Fund, the Department of Health and important local groups like the Alzheimer’s Society in Bradford and Meri Yaadain, an organisation which aims to raise awareness of dementia and give support to sufferers from the South Asian communities in the district.

“I’m speak on behalf of the whole team when I say thank you for your support in making this project a success.”

The wards were transformed under a ‘Yorkshire Outdoors’ theme which saw art work commissioned and films from the Yorkshire Film Archive shown to stimulate patients and help them reminisce.

Corridors are painted in relaxing strong colours with vibrant photographs depicting the surrounding countryside and familiar local scenes to aid reminiscence of sufferers.

Memory boxes have been added to personalise bed spaces and dynamic new lighting has been installed to aid a patient’s sleep and wake cycles as dementia sufferers often have a disrupted sleep pattern.

New televisions have been installed which have DVDs in-built and USB ports so families can bring in their own films and photographs which might help people feel calmer and a reminiscence café full of items from the past has been created on ward 29 Debbie Beaumont, matron for elderly care, said: “Hospitals can be very frightening and disorientating places for people with dementia so anything we can do to enhance the environment and make a patient’s stay more calming and less anxious, is fantastic.

“Already we are seeing benefits from the new ward environment; we have seen the amount of patient falls decrease as patients are less disorientated and we are receiving positive remarks from relatives who are telling us that the wards’ surroundings are more peaceful and serene.

“Our new environment, when contrasted to the old, definitely provides more of an air of relaxation, warmth, independence and better orientation for patients and their carers.”

Last year the Telegraph & Argus started a campaign called With Respect aimed at winning more dignity for elderly people.