Dementia UK home working: Emily Oliver, Consultant Admiral Nurse

October 14, 2020

Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic lockdown in March 2020, many people have been working differently to normal. Replacing face-to-face meetings, travelling, and office working are makeshift desks in living rooms, Zoom calls and a more virtual way of working. With the recent Government guidance advising office workers to work from home over the winter if they are able to, it looks as though for many of us, this will be the ‘new normal’ until at least Spring 2021.

We decided to speak to some of the staff at Dementia UK to find out more about their role, how they have adjusted to this new way of working over the past six months, and what they see the future of office working to be. We spoke to Emily Oliver, Consultant Admiral Nurse.

How long have you been working at Dementia UK?

Since May 2018 – two and a half years.

Why did you want to work for Dementia UK?

Prior to my job at Dementia UK, I was working as mental health nurse and had completed a PhD in dementia care. My passion has always been to improve the experience of dementia for people with a diagnosis and their families, so to work for a charity where that is their main aim was always something I had wanted.

What is a typical working day for you like?

My role is to support new nurses to develop Admiral Nursing services in the South West of England and South/West Wales. I work closely with nurses and service managers, providing clinical and operational support – and therefore spend a lot of time in meetings.

Part of my role is to deliver training and awareness sessions, as well as provide supervision to a group of nurses, so I tend to host a lot of webinars. I also write articles for publications and documentation for services.

What is your favourite part about working for Dementia UK?

Dementia UK is one of the most supportive organisations I have ever worked within. The charity is based on values of empowerment, respect, integrity and collaboration, and this is evidenced both in the support they provide to families affected by dementia and the way in which they support their staff. I have been given so many opportunities at Dementia UK and any idea I have has always been received with open arms.

Before coronavirus, how often were you working in the office?

My role has always been home-based, however, prior to coronavirus, I spent most of my time travelling to different health organisations across the South West so was rarely at home. I would visit the head office in London two to three times a month for meetings.

How are you working now?

Since the start of lockdown in March, I have been working completely from home. Due to the nature of our role in health care organisations, we turned to virtual working, to reduce the risk to both the nurses we support and ourselves.

What do you enjoy about working from home?

Working from home has provided me a better sense of work-life balance and flexibility. Before, I travelled quite a lot and often got home late in the evening; now I stop working at a reasonable time. If I need to quickly pop out during the day, I can just make up the time later. I’m also saving money – those coffees on the way to work and lunches on the go weren’t good for my bank balance or waist line!

How do you stay motivated while working from home?

I am passionate about my job and don’t find it hard to stay motivated, however, I have developed a few strategies. I stick to a routine, as I did pre-covid, so wake up at 6:30am, get showered and dressed, ready to start work at 8. I ensure I have regular catch up calls with my team and colleagues that are not just work orientated, but also have a social aspect that allows for a break away from work – as you would if you were in an office. I try to keep my diary occupied and vary my focus throughout the day; I think sticking to one task per day can make you feel bogged down.

Do you live with anyone else and does this impact you working from home?

My partner worked from home prior to Covid-19 so he was used to this way of working. We are lucky in that we have separate rooms in the house in which we can work, so we tend to say goodbye in the morning and go to work for the day, and catch up at the end of the day, as we did before. Sometimes we do cross paths in the kitchen when we are making a drink or having lunch, which is nice!

What do you miss most about working pre-covid?

I spent a lot of time visiting nurses at their host organisations and miss that face-to-face contact. I think it’s better for relationship building when you are in the same room with someone. Whenever I went to the Dementia UK head office, I felt a part of something really good and although I know I still am, I miss that sense of pride when I walk through the door.

How has your team worked together throughout the pandemic?

In an odd way, I think our team is stronger and closer than before. As soon as lockdown began, we booked in two calls a week as a source of support, both personally and professionally. This has given us the opportunity to bond as a team and I have learnt so much more about my colleagues. I think the fact that we are all based at home has given us more of an insight into each other’s personal lives; we’ve shared what our houses look like and met each other’s partners, children and pets!

What do you see the future of office working being?

I definitely think there is still a place for office working and meeting face-to-face, however, I believe we can be much more flexible in our approach. We have proved that we can work on a virtual basis and don’t need to travel miles for every meeting which is a huge time and financial resource. I think going forward we can combine home and office working in a way that allows for improved work-life balance and improved efficiency.

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