My journey into dementia care began as a student nurse and took me wholly by surprise. As a mental health nursing student I was all set to complete my training and go on to to do further qualifications in counselling and psychological therapies with a view to setting up in private practice; then I had my older adult placement.
I was not expecting to come away with anything other than the credits I needed to pass the module, but I was so very wrong!!
I absolutely fell in love with working with older adults and in particular those living with dementia. It changed the whole direction of my career and I am truly thankful for it.
I came into nursing as most people do because of a desire to help others; working with people living with advanced dementia and supporting them and their loved ones, allows me to fulfill that everyday.
In dementia care we talk about how ‘feelings matter’, and although people living with dementia may not remember details about conversations or events they will remember how they felt and more importantly, how people made them feel. It is important to me that my residents continue to feel respected and valued as a person and I am proud to become their voice when they struggle to be heard and to challenge the perception we often hear of ‘it’s just their dementia’.
I feel extremely privileged to be allowed into my residents reality, despite their confusion and disorientation, which often affects their ability to make sense of the world around them. To be able to break through the communication barriers imposed by dementia and build a relationship based upon trust through treating people with kindness and respect so they feel safe in my care, is an honour.
Caring for someone at the end of their life is hard, especially once you have got to know them as well as we do. Yet it is imperative to me that they continue to be treated with dignity and respect and to ensure we are able to make them as comfortable and peaceful as we can in those last moments.
Since I qualified I have worked for Continuing Health Care covering Bradford and Airedale which involved assessing and organising funding and care packages; the majority of which were for dementia care. I’ve also worked for a company in Leeds, assessing and diagnosing dementia and providing post diagnostic support. I was able to gain a wealth of experience working as Unit Manager for Dementia. In the care home where I found my passion as a student nurse and subsequently increased my knowledge and skills of palliative and end of life care through training with St Gemma’s hospice in Leeds.
With Vida Healthcare I am so grateful to have found somewhere that shares an ethos in providing person-centred dementia care that matches my own and to be able to put all my knowledge and skills to use each day to make a positive difference to our residents lives.
Hannah Zoltie, Registered Mental Health Nurse, Vida Grange