Can you tell us a bit about yourself, your background and your role here at BMI The South Cheshire Hospital?
I have worked at The South Cheshire Hospital since 2000. I completed my nurse training in Chester, and after qualifying I worked as a junior sister on a gynaecological ward. However, I felt it gave me very little opportunity to nurse and instead became more of an admin role. I applied to the airlines and was a long haul air stewardess for 10 years.
I later returned to nursing and completed an intensive course at Halton Hospital. I began doing shifts at the South Cheshire and accepted a permanent post in 2000. I am now a ward sister and the dementia lead. I have a family member with the condition so it’s very close to my heart. I have completed many courses including a 16-week course provided by the University of Tasmania; luckily I now have a few qualifications which I feel has deemed me competent to deliver expert dementia care in my scope of practice.
What aspects of your role do you enjoy the most?
I really enjoy teaching and the challenges of turning The South Cheshire Hospital into a dementia-friendly establishment. I deliver a three-hour learning module to staff which is unique to this. I have always felt that learning is more effectively achieved by a face-to-face and using a role play method as it gives staff the opportunity to discuss issues.
Describe a typical day/week at South Cheshire for you
A typical day within my role involves allocation of beds for patients, distribution of work load for the staff on shift, ensuring theatre lists run smoothly, and ensuring that patients and relatives are content with the standard of care we provide. If we have any patients with dementia I always ensure I am either on duty or contactable via the phone, however I know that the staff on shift will deliver an exceptional level of care that is adapted to the patient’s needs.
How does your role benefit the patients?
Having a dementia lead at the hospital gives relatives peace of mind. I always attempt to meet the patient at the pre-operative assessment, where I can establish the level of memory impairment the patient has and also explain to relatives the facilities we have on offer here at the South Cheshire.
We have a dementia-friendly room, which has been adapted to suit the needs of our patients with dementia; this includes appropriate signage, cutlery and crockery specifically aimed at patients with cognitive impairment and staff trained in caring for them appropriately.
What has been your greatest achievement so far at the hospital?
I am very proud to have ensured that the majority of staff, both nursing and administrative, including our Executive Director are all now Dementia Friends (an initiative from the Alzheimer's Society). I provided sessions with my colleague Elizabeth Hawkins, as we both had attended a training programme to become dementia champions. This means we can deliver training to others who wish to become a Dementia Friend.
I have created information boards for consulting suites and the ward, and I have relevant booklets and advice placed throughout the hospital, where patient activity is high.
I am now on the National Dementia Steering group to promote good practice and to ensure that BMI leads the way in ensuring our patients with dementia are cared for in manner that befits the condition. Myself and my colleague Catherine Hall have been paramount in the delivery of a dementia-friendly menu which BMI will roll out to all its hospitals. We met with the catering team in London and discussed appropriate food choices, including user-friendly crockery and cutlery and we are both very excited to see the end product. As dementia patients often have problems with cognition, this is a big step forward in ensuring their dietary needs are met.
What activities do you enjoy outside of work?
Outside of work, I continue to learn as much as I can with regard to dementia by attending lectures and forums. I am closely linked with the dementia team at Leighton Hospital.
In my spare time I enjoying going to the gym and socialising with family and friends. I also visit my parents in Llandudno every week and offer help and support, as my mum has dementia and is still at home with my father, who is her main carer.
I am very passionate about my role as dementia lead. I love educating people and I believe everyone should have a greater understanding of dementia as the numbers of people affected by the condition are increasing.
Here at the South Cheshire, we will continue to improve our own information services to ensure people with dementia and their carers have access to clear reliable information. We will continue to campaign for improved public awareness and for better understanding of dementia through research and education.
BMI The South Cheshire Private Hospital offers a wide range of services including eye clinics, vascular surgery and orthopaedic. View the full list of hospital services.