Hello, my name is Debbie, and I have been a staff nurse at Barnsley Hospice since 2009.
I became a Dementia Champion in 2021, which is a role I am immensely proud of. In this profile, I hope to give you more insight into my role, and how it can help services to deliver the best possible care and support for people living with dementia.
What is a Dementia Champion?
As a Dementia Champion, my role is to raise awareness and highlight best practices for supporting people living with dementia within the hospice. I have protected time each month for additional training and implementing my learning around dementia.
To support me in the role, I undertook a diploma in dementia care with the Open College, which focused on learning more about the symptoms associated with dementia. As part of the diploma, I did a piece of work around supporting people with dementia to plan for the future.
Moving forward, I hope to focus on delivering more staff training about supporting people with a dementia diagnosis in a palliative and end of life care setting.
Why is this role important?
On a personal note, my Dad had dementia, and it was a really difficult experience for us as a family. There were quite a lot of situations where we felt his condition wasn’t understood, so when I started my role as a champion, I knew how important it was to ‘get it right’ for people living with dementia.
As a society, we are likely to see a rising number of dementia diagnoses and more people receiving specialist palliative and end of life care with dementia as their primary diagnosis. Because of this, I think it’s more important than ever to ensure there are designated members of the team to champion their needs.
Most importantly, I want to help people living with dementia have as much say in their care as possible, making sure they feel heard and understood.
I believe having a Dementia Champion is an important part of delivering person-centred care. It can help to put the right tools and learning in place so that all members of the team feel confident in finding out more about the person – for example, what their likes and dislikes are – and provide the best care possible.
How can we better support people with dementia?
Everyone is different, and that’s the same for people living with dementia. It’s important to remember that behind the diagnosis, there is a person with their own unique personality and life experience. I think that’s key for supporting anyone living with dementia.
Something we have started to roll at in the hospice is the Alzheimer’s Society’s ‘This is Me’ document. This is a great way to talk through someone’s likes and dislikes, fears, and routines – which is a really important part of understanding the person and the best way to support them.