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First in the Nation: Dementia Friendly Designation

Madison VA Medical Center
William S. Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital in Madison, WI

In November 2017, the Madison VA Medical Center was recognized as a Dementia Friendly Hospital. This recognition is the result of a hospital wide effort that included additional training for hospital staff and volunteers, as well as signage changes that make it easier for patients to navigate the hospital.

Community collaboration is one of the criteria required for recognition and the hospital worked closely with Dane County on these improvements. “Becoming Dementia Friendly helps people recognize signs of dementia and respond in an appropriate manner,” said Joseph Parisi, Dane County Executive. “With this practical knowledge, we can all be part of creating a safe and welcoming place for everyone in our community.”

To date, nearly 500 clinical and frontline staff at the Madison VA have received training in the early recognition of, and effective response to, Veterans with memory deficit challenges, such as dementia. Other VA hospitals are working to implement similar practices.

“The training and environment changes are part of our commitment to ensure our Veterans, and all visitors to our hospital with cognitive challenges, feel welcomed and safe,” said John Rohrer, Director of the Madison VA hospital. “If these changes make it easier for even one Veteran, than all of our efforts were worth it.”