In this week’s episode of Hospital on BBC Two, our staff work with patients who have dementia and mental health conditions. Meet staff who work in our dementia and elderly services providing world-class care to our patients every day.

Colin Mitchell
Colin Mitchell, consultant physician and geriatrician

What I do

I’ve worked at the Trust since 2010, initially as a registrar, and then in 2011 I became a consultant. I lead the medical team on Witherow ward which specialises in elderly medicine. We look after the most frail and complex patients in the hospital.

Best part of the job

In my job nothing is ever routine. Even straightforward treatments in a frail patient can affect other aspects of their care or cause more problems than they solve. I’m happy that my job helps vulnerable people but the reason I do it is because it’s fun, challenging & interesting.

A memorable moment

My team and I were invited to an event to celebrate the life of a patient – a crusading journalist – who was under my care at the end of his life. His medical care was very challenging and unpredictable, and his family found the last few weeks of his life difficult to see. But despite this, they felt we had looked after him well and this was a huge compliment.

Biggest challenge

Most probably the lack of coordination between health and social care. Social workers work within nearly impossible constraints and this makes providing good care in the community for people who are frail, but don’t need to be in hospital, very difficult.

Working in London

In London there is a huge variety of people. I look after and meet people and their families from every social, economic and cultural background, which makes every day different and interesting.

Also the restaurants are pretty good!

When I leave work

I’m a fairly good cook and can shake up a few cocktails while I’m at it. I also cycle and like a good pub quiz (and sometimes win!).

Iara Blasco, healthcare assistant, Charing Cross Hospital

What I do

As part of my role as healthcare assistant, I lead on coordination activities for our patients on wards 8 north, 8 west and 8 south. Every morning we deliver newspapers to all our patients which is a great opportunity to see and get to know our patients and make sure they’re ok. I then talk to the patients to see if there’s anything they’d like to do. I coordinate a number of different activities from pamper sessions, film screenings, music and painting. We also do physical activities to get patients up and about if they are able.

Earlier this year I was speaking to one of my patients about what they would like to do, and they explained that they wanted to go to the theatre. My managers gave me the opportunity to make this possible and I got in touch with the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama. We worked together and over the course of eight weeks the students came in and worked with our patients to create two theatre shows on the ward for patients and visitors.

My most memorable moment

My most memorable moment is definitely seeing the theatre project come alive when I saw the smiles on my patients face. It was great to see them so happy and it didn’t feel like we were in a hospital at all.

When I leave work

I’m a very active spirit and am always doing something. I love cycling, swimming and running and I’m currently training to do take part in the London Triathlon.

Dianne Campbell
Dianne Campbell, experience trainer

What I do

I am an experience trainer, which is a post funded by Imperial Health Charity. Working a typical six-hour week, I assist the dementia care team at St Mary’s Hospital and take part in a staff training session with between 60 and 80 healthcare professionals once a month. I’m not a doctor or a nurse, but I’m uniquely placed to provide vital support to the Trust’s dementia care team – I have dementia myself.

In regular question and answer sessions as part of the dementia care team’s Learning From Life initiative, I help to educate and empower staff across the Trust by providing a unique insight into life with the condition. I’ve lived with a mild form of dementia for the last five years and have developed ways of managing the condition so that I can continue to lead a normal life. They ask me how I deal with my memory, who I call, what plans I put in place in case I’m sick.


Caring for people with dementia can present complex challenges, even for experienced healthcare professionals. It’s crucial that staff at every step of the care pathway have a comprehensive understanding of the condition. I believe it’s essential for doctors and nurses to treat the person, not the condition.

Some people know very little about dementia, so they wonder how you cope with it. They imagine what it would be like if they, or one of their family members, lost the ability to remember things.

Best part of my job

I believe that enabling people with dementia to contribute to patient care can have a restorative effect. This programme has not only supported staff but it’s helped me understand my own condition as well.

Maria Roselle Perez
Maria Roselle Perez, discharge nurse specialist

What I do

As a discharge nurse specialist, I facilitate the safe discharge of patients, helping them leave hospital even in the most complex cases. I have been with the Trust since 2003, and worked as a ward sister before I joined the discharge team.

The best part of my job

The best part is being able to make a difference to the lives of those patients under my care and help patients to access resources that are available to support their discharge either by referring them, directing them or contacting the right people for them. It’s also really rewarding to help patients transition from hospital and integrate back into the community as smoothly as possible.

My most memorable moment

The most memorable moment in this job was when I helped a patient’s carer who was no longer able to cope with caring for her partner. She wouldn’t accept any help as she had feelings of guilt and felt like it was her responsibility to care for her partner alone. But despite her initial fears and resistance, I was able to convince her to accept the support she needed, which she later thanked me for as this decision made a big difference to her and her partner’s lives.

When I leave work

The best thing about working in London is its diversity, fast-paced lifestyle and vibrant places to go. In my free time though what I really like to do is spend time with my family by the seaside or in the countryside – somewhere with lots of greenery and space.