We caught up with Rachael Lowe, one of the first clinic-based Admiral Nurses based in Nottinghamshire, around what makes her tick and how she sees the new service developing.
As one of our first clinic Admiral Nurses, how are you settling into your new role?
I’m really enjoying it; it’s been challenging setting up a new service during a pandemic, but it’s also been very exciting.
Over the last six weeks, I have completed training provided by Dementia UK and from the service hosts at the GP practices. After completing my training, I set out to contact local services and groups so that I can signpost carers and families to organisations that can provide support after their appointment.
In addition, I have weekly meetings with other clinic Admiral Nurses setting up services around the country, so we can share ideas and our progress. My line manager has been brilliant too; she used to be an Admiral Nurse in Nottingham a few years ago, so her knowledge of the area and the role has been amazing.
How did you get into dementia care?
Whilst I was studying nursing at university, I became particularly interested in understanding capacity and dementia. This stemmed from one of my placements as a student nurse working with dementia patients in hospitals.
I wanted to understand why a person who had a diagnosis of dementia was automatically assigned 1:1care, without assessing their abilities, andtherefore, reducingtheir small but important day-to-day decisions; such as what they wanted to eat that day. I felt it increased the distress and confusion of the person living with the condition and that we weren’t treating patients with the dignity and respect that they deserve.
This was eight years ago now, and although a lot has changed since then, it prompted me to write my dissertation on providing person-centred care to people living with dementia.
My first job as a qualified nurse in 2015 was at a nursing home in Yorkshirethat specialised in people living with dementia,experiencing periods of distress. The home was brilliant and focussed on a person-centred approach to care by using therapies such as music and activities focussed on the individual. I worked there for two years before moving to Nottinghamshire towork at the Queen’s Medical Centre, before moving back into dementia care.
What are you most passionate about? Any specialisms you have around dementia care?
I believe managing pain effectively has a significant impact on quality of life. I work with families and other professionals to detect the signs of pain, in addition to creating a care plan that focusses on the whole person, including other long-term conditions; this reduces confusion and distress and improves quality of life.
I have continued to keep up to date with best practice in dementia care over the years, particularly in end-of-life care and supporting families through difficult times. I have also continued to maintain current knowledge of new therapies such as music therapies, using memory books and activities to stimulate and distract to reduce distress.
How do you see the service developing over the next year and what impact do you hope to have?
We will continually be reviewing and developing the service and working to improve it. I hope that the service will reduce unplanned admissions to hospital and early admittance to residential and nursing homes. I also hope it will empower families, giving them the right information and support to address their health needs.
During the 12 months following launch, I see the service gaining increased bookings from healthcare professionals, in turn, with Admiral Nurses providing support to them. In time, the service could develop further across Nottingham with more Admiral Nurses employed to form a team, providing coordinated dementia care across the city.
What is your top bit of advice for families with dementia to help them maintain a positive outlook during Covid-19?
Reach out to people around you regularly if you’re struggling, including neighbours, friends or family. Asking for help with shopping or picking up prescriptions can really help. Share how you’re feeling with other people and if possible, form a support bubble with another person.
Families will be able to find more information around the service and can book an appointment with Rachael through their local GP practice within the Clifton and the Meadows Primary Care Network and City South PCN. Attending an Admiral Nurse clinic gives families the opportunity to seek specialist advice, support and clinical guidance about dementia, in confidence.
Many thanks to our charity partners at Central England Co-operative who provided £100,000 in funding for Rachael’s post over the next two years.
What is an Admiral Nurse?
Find out what our dementia specialist Admiral Nurses do and how they support families facing dementia