Resilience strategy – creating a ‘placebo’ bus stop for patients with dementia #rsdiary

Radiolab’s ‘The Bus Stop’

This is the story of the use of fake bus stops near the grounds of care homes for people with dementia, as a strategy to work with them rather than against them if they feel compelled to escape and try to go home.

After observing that many patients who are trying to escape head to a bus stop (as a familiar item that suggests a way of getting home) one care home in Germany approached this problem in a clever way, and built a fake bus stop for its residents.

“…the bus stop diffuses the sense of panic. For instance, if a delusional patient decided that she needed to go home immediately because her children were all alone and waiting for her, the attendant didn’t need to restrain her or talk her out of it, she simply said, “Oh, well, there’s the bus stop.” Thus, the patient would go sit and wait. Knowing that she was on her way home, she would relax and, given her diminished cognition, she would eventually forget why she was there. Staff can then approach the patients and tell them that the bus is delayed and invite them in for refreshments while they wait. Five minutes later they have completely forgotten they wanted to leave.”

More on this story
Fake Bus Stops For Alzheimer’s patients in Germany (18 November 2011)
Uncommon Act of Design: Fake Bus Stop Helps Alzheimer’s Patients (26 March 2010)
A German hospital’s amazing solution to a baffling problem.
Phantomhaltestelle hilft Demenzkranken (11 March 2008)

Further reading
• CHI+MED on Resilient Medical Systems and the Errordiary project where we are collecting people’s examples of everyday errors (via the hashtag #errordiary) and their solutions (via the hashtag #rsdiary – for ‘resilience strategies’ diary).

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