Two hospitals serving the county have been given more than £1.3 million to improve care for patients with dementia.

The Royal United Hospital in Bath has been awarded £555,400, which will be used to refurbish Combe Ward. The new facility will have 26 beds and six side rooms.

Work on the ward has begun and changes include clear signs, sensitive lighting and mirrors. A living area with fireplace and wood effect flooring is intended to help patients and carers feel at ease.

The redesign is part of a wider programme to improve conditions for people with dementia, including three dementia co-ordinators working in the hospital.

Dr Chris Dyer, consultant geriatrician at the RUH, said: “These changes will offer substantial improvements to the quality of life experienced by patients with dementia and to their carers and our dedicated staff too.”

Salisbury District Hospital has received £805,000, which will be used to redesign two wards where older people are cared for.

Tracey Nutter, director of nursing at the hospital, said: “The main part of Salisbury District Hospital is almost 21 years old now.

“In that time we have learned so much about how to use interior design to support patient care and this can be particularly effective when people are confused or suffer from dementia.”

Some of the planned improvements include making bed spaces more personal, having more social areas to encourage interaction, using colours to help prevent people from getting lost and improving the lighting.

The money has been awarded by the Department of Health to improve patient care.

One of the conditions of securing the funding is that the hospital has to share its learning with other NHS hospitals.

The Department of Health has also given £115,900 to Wiltshire Council for a project on promoting independence in dementia environments.

Keith Humphries, cabinet member for adult care, said: “This funding has been awarded following a successful bid to government for capital funding.

"It will directly benefit customers with dementia to enjoy greater independence within their care home and gardens, which in turn will help increase mobility and improve social engagement in the home.

"The funding will also go towards installing assistive technology to enable staff to meet the complex needs of some of the residents