Nurses Matter in Dementia Care

“When you know who you are, what you can be and where you can lead; when you can be vulnerable and unafraid, laugh, cry and dance a dance you do not know. When you can be in the moment with another person, only then do you have the beginning of being the best that you can be in dementia care. Only then can you recapture the best nursing in dementia care.”

Clare Peters, RMN, Abbey Court

The Abbey Court Team.  Bottom row, 2nd R-L, Clare Peters.

The Abbey Court Team. Bottom row, 2nd R-L, Clare Peters.

Being Person Centred is all about ‘getting it’; excellent dementia care involves creating a culture where the service brings out the best in staff and people living with a dementia.
This week is Dementia Awareness week.  Abbey Court – Warrington recently underwent the Being a Star training programme delivered by Dementia Care Matters; an evidence based approach to developing dementia care in organisations. Here, Clare Peters, an RMN at Abbey Court, shares with us her own personal view on the training experience.

“I have been in mental health nursing for 29 years, and for 18 of those years I believed I could make a difference to another person’s life; I truly believed that I was making, how ever small, a difference. I was passionate and hungry for new ways to develop myself, and when people asked me what I did, I was proud to say ‘I am a psychiatric nurse’.  I enjoyed working with people on a human level, and yes, I enjoyed the buzz it gave me to see somebody transform, knowing that I had had a small part to play in that transformation.”

Well that was over ten years ago, and quite frankly, I am amazed that I remained so positive for so long when all around me were burned out and cynical.

David Sheard, Founder/CEO of Dementia Care Matters delivered a Being a Star training programme at Abbey Court focussing on modernising teams: how general managers, nurses and care staff can work more creatively together.

Through our training, my colleagues and I were encouraged to find solutions to problems and take ownership, to look for solutions to problems and not problems in the solution. We were given the autonomy to make positive change. Given praise for the things we did well how ever small, receiving recognition for good ideas and encouraged to share the idea with the team.

We did team building exercises in meetings and began to have some fun and learn about what made all of us tick and what really did ‘make a good day’  for us.

We were being asked how we felt, what rattled our cages and what made us laugh or cry. We were sharing things about ourselves with each other and learning what made a good day at work for each individual. Real, genuine discussions took place and we learned about our own beliefs and what was important to us as a person. Of course it doesn’t just flourish once you come together as a team, it has to be worked at and nourished with new learning and ideas, continued support and cascaded clinical supervision.

Most recently I received an appraisal.  I learned so much about myself and how other people see me and I was able to recognise my strengths and just how much I have transformed in twelve months.

Through our training, we began to transform our environment that the people at Abbey Court live and work in and we became a butterfly project. We worked together to improve the way we approached supporting other people, we were encouraged to think outside the box and come up with solutions to obscure problems. Most important of all we were encouraged to be unashamedly in the moment with the people we support and ourselves. We have learned and now know that to be person centred you must centre yourself first and understand that we are all feeling based people who affect other feeling based people lives.

It is true that every team needs a focussed leader who brings out the best in each individual by use of skill matching and one page profiles and in this respect we were very fortunate indeed.

David Sheard and his team have re-inspired and re-injected job satisfaction.  I feel like a new member of a self aware, supportive and coordinated team; I have the passion I once had, I want to make a difference and believe I can do it.

Following the completion of our training, I wrote the above opening paragraph. And I’m delighted and proud to say that David Sheard recently closed a Dementia Care Matters conference with my quote.

“The person centred approach really does work; push for it, lead it, and do it, but remember, you only get out as much as you put in.”