Louise Hyde, Staff Nurse
A Norwich Staff Nurse has spoken of the positive impact which small actions can make to the lives of patients with dementia and their families during Dementia Action Week.
Louise Hyde has worked on Beach Ward at the Julian Hospital, which is an acute admission ward for people with dementia run by Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT), since November.
She has described the enjoyment she gets from working with patients and their families and the importance of getting to know each individual so that you can help them take part in activities which are meaningful to them – in turn boosting confidence and maintaining independence.
"I decided to move to Beach Ward as I wanted a new challenge and older persons' care was a completely new area to me," said Louise, who previously worked as an adult mental health nurse within the community. "It seemed like a good opportunity to use my skills in a different way.
"It's a steep learning curve and there's lots to think about as our ageing population can have complex physical health issues as well as mental health challenges, but I'm really enjoying it so far and am relishing the opportunity to work with a different patient group.
"When people come to us they have often reached crisis point, which can be really stressful for both the individual and their loved ones. It's vital for us to support families and carers as well as the patient – they are such an important source of information and are often key in telling us how to keep the lines of communication open. That is so important as the patient can be frightened because they are in unfamiliar surroundings – any barriers to communication can add to that confusion and make them feel very frustrated and vulnerable.
"I enjoy having so much direct patient contact and being able to provide patient-centred support as people progress on their recovery journey. We try to make sure we focus on what is important to them and what activities they would like to do on a day-to-day basis so that we can maintain as much of their independence as possible.
"One small thing which makes a difference to our patients is approaching them all as individuals. It's vital that we find out as much as we can about each patient, involve their families and get to understand a bit about their lives so that we can provide the best possible care and encourage and support them to take part in meaningful activities in a safe way.
"Sometimes it can seem like you are taking really small steps, but it can also be incredibly rewarding as you feel you are making a real difference to the individual patient and their quality of life."