Let’s go back to where it all began…
I started to study adult nursing in 2009 and qualified in 2012. Once I qualified it was actually quite difficult to secure a permanent staff nurse position; unlike now, in 2017, where sadly we actually have nurse shortages across the UK.
I was lucky enough to secure a Staff Nurse position at Rush Hall Care Home. During my clinical placements I had not had the opportunity to spend time within a care home setting, so I was thrilled at the prospect of forming long lasting relationships with the people in my care.
I still remember the sheer excitement I felt at the thought of wearing my Nurse uniform and my Staff Nurse badge for the very first time. I was so proud to be a Nurse and I still take great pride in my profession.
On my first week I was told I would be caring for residents living with Dementia. I was honestly quite anxious and I thought that this might potentially not be the right setting for me after all; I began to doubt myself.
Thankfully, I had a period of preceptorship and a mentor that I worked alongside within the home, so I was very well supported.
As I settled into my role I was also given lots of Dementia Care training and I was guided to follow best practice. The Dementia Care Team were very inspiring people; they provided me with the motivation and also the confidence that I could do my job well. I then became so invested in dementia care; I saw that the people I was looking after could live well. It was all about looking beyond the dementia and seeing the person.
As my confidence grew I wanted to ensure that I was giving the people I was looking after the best possible care to meet their clinical needs, whilst acknowledging them as an individual. I had learned the value of life story. By getting to know the people I was looking after I could see positive changes in the way I worked, the way my residents’ reacted to me and ultimately the care I was providing.
I didn’t stop there. I became involved with the Alzheimer’s Society outside of work as a Dementia Friendly Community Champion. This gave me the opportunity to help educate people within my local community about living with dementia and how to support people. I also promoted dementia awareness within primary schools, and recently I attended Queens University Belfast to deliver dementia awareness sessions to undergraduate students.
I am currently privileged to work with the Four Seasons Health Care Dementia Care Framework team as a Project Facilitator; which I absolutely love and take great pride in. I visit the homes within the company which provide dementia care and champion best practice in dementia care. I feel so fortunate, as this role allows me to support staff within the homes and instil the confidence needed for them to cascade what they have learned throughout their home - to their team and beyond.
I plan to continue to encourage best practice in dementia care in our homes, remembering to keep the individual at the centre of all I do. Personally, I want to continue to learn and perhaps expand my knowledge and skills at postgraduate level. I also want people to see that working in the care home sector is a very valuable role which should be appreciated.
I really hope that in the future we see more people coming into the care home profession; for me it’s been an invaluable experience. I have had the opportunity to learn so much and progress in my career. I have also learned that the people you have around you for support are vital. I feel privileged to have cross-paths with so many inspiring people and within Four Seasons there are so many examples of this.
One of the most important things that I always remember is that the people we are looking after are the experts; they have so much we can learn from. They are the people who can help make the change happen if we listen to them and promote inclusion.
We as practitioners are in a very privileged position; we have the power to make change happen.