What is dementia?

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Dementia is an umbrella term used to describe a group of symptoms associated with a decline in memory or other thinking skills severe enough to reduce a person’s ability to perform everyday activities (Alzheimer’s Association, 2018).

Some common types of dementia include:

  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Vascular disease
  • Dementia with Lewy bodies
  • Frontotemporal dementia (Pick’s disease)
  • Creutzfeldt-Jakob
  • Wernicke-Korsakoff
  • Mixed Dementia
  • Other causes – e.g. stroke, trauma, etc. Dementia-signs-symptoms-QBI

 

Dementia can affect people in a variety of ways as you can see from the image to the right.

 

The 3 main areas of the brain that are affected are those which control language, memory, and decisionmaking.

 

Working within this industry can show you how this illness can affect the lives of residents and their families. Families feel as though their family member has been lost and they cannot get them back. I have witnessed a resident completely forgot their children and in these times you can understand why people don’t visit as much as they wish to. It’s painful to lose someone you love and dementia makes this process long and agonising.

 

In the recent news, you hear of the deaths of residents in Burlington Court in Glasgow, Scotland. Its awful news and shows how much care staff within the private care sector have to achieve during this time with little to no PPE to protect themselves or their residents. These people continue to go to their work and care for the most vulnerable during this time and it has caused two of the care staff needing to go to hospital for treatment for COVID-19. I praise these key workers for putting in all they can to protect those in need.

 

My first resident to pass

Mother’s Day 2020 was one of the hardest days of my career.

Yes. People that I have cared for that passed before, but not when I was on shift.

My resident was a 75-year-old lady. Who loved to read and listen to Elvis in her spare time. She said that she couldn’t be bothered with any of that TV nonsense and time should be spent educating yourself. She had the most infectious laugh and when she smiled, the whole room smiled with her.

She had a daughter. Not biological but one she gained through marriage and their relationship was one to be envied. I think this is the relationship that all mothers and daughters should base their relationship upon.

Her husband who sadly passed away 8 years ago was a poet of the sort (being that he only wrote poems for her). But she had them all recorded by him and played them in the background while she laid in her bed and began to become weaker.

When she could no longer lift her book, she still listened to his poems.

This woman came to the nursing home due to frailty and the inability to look after herself any longer. She kept as much independence as she could but we helped with the little things.

She was diagnosed with breast cancer and cervical cancer at aged 30 and, as she put it, “had everything taken away”. But that didn’t stop her from finding love and raising her husband’s daughter as her own. She had two strokes in her late 60s and this is what caused her cognitive and physical decline.

The week before mother’s day (15/03/20) she had two strokes in one day.

The GP came out and assessed her and placed her on palliative care. Stating that there was nothing that modern medicine could do to help with her condition. Our only job was to make her comfortable and pain-free.

This is what myself and my team did.

We ensured that a patient on end of life (EOL) care received the best treatment we could give and made sure she was pain-free for her remaining days.

Due to the COVID-19 virus, all visitors to our home had been told to say away due to risk to the residents. An exception had been made for this resident as we knew that these were the last few days her family would ever see her.

When I began my shift I did a walk of the floor to ensure all the residents were present and well. My team and I then began personal care of the residents to ensure that they were clean and fresh for the day. For this particular resident, one other senior staff member and I assisted her with personal care. During this time the resident was mainly asleep, taking small shallow breaths as we assisted with a bed bath and bed change. I checked her observations and could tell she was in pain. I administered morphine sulphate via injection and it appeared to be effective. I rang her daughter to update her on her current status and said I felt she should come in as it was getting closer to the time.

I waited in the room with the resident until her loved one arrived. I help her hand and talked about Elvis and books and poems. She didn’t answer but that didn’t matter. When her daughter arrived she came into the room and looked white as a ghost and burst into tears fearing that she wasn’t there in time for her mother. I reassured her and then left her to spend the vital final moment together.

15 minutes later her buzzer for her room went off and we went and confirmed the resident had passed.

The daughter was crying profusely (as I would be) and thanked us all for making her final months with her mother pain-free and peaceful.

I stayed strong through these moments. But I feel that this death hit m harder than any other. I was there. I performed the last offices. and later that day I took a moment to myself and broke down slightly.

I don’t feel that I am a bad nurse because I mourned for my residents passing. I feel that I gave all I could to make the end of her life bearable and I feel I did a really good job.

I think within a ward setting it is difficult to create a bond with someone. To get to know them and their small quirks. That is why I love my job. I know my residents well. As well as family. And if anyone asked me a question about them I know the answer cause I am invested in their lives.

Mourning my residents passing not only makes a good nurse but it makes a good person.

It shows compassion and empathy.

Hard days make good nurses.

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We CAN get through this!!!

I feel WordPress has been an amazing place to read the stories of other nurses who are very much in the same situation as me. They will continue to go to work day after day as long as they are well enough to treat others and help them get better.

People I know always say that nursing is a thankless job. That you look after the public and get no thanks in return, and before recently I had begun to feel that. However, over the past couple of weeks, I feel as though the general public has really shown their appreciation to the people who are working the hardest during all of this. With that said, I work with amazing senior nursing assistants and carers who work just as hard as me, if not harder, and I feel that they have been very underappreciated.

A lot of restaurants and take-away food establishments are offering free/discounted food and drink to ‘nurses and doctors’, however, I know of carers and nursing assistants who are getting turned away saying their job doesn’t apply. It isn’t just nurses that make up the majority of the healthcare workforce. It is the people who are paid a lot less but give a lot more. These people are going out to work every day, getting paid minimum wage in most cases and putting their health and the health of the people they love at risk. Most doctors can afford their meals without help. Most nurses could use a bit of help but can manage to get through. Most healthcare assistants and carers are struggling to make sure all of their bills are paid on time every single month.

Another thing which has come to attention is that a lot of these offers are only offered to the NHS. Without the private health sector, there would be a mass of elderly patients who are unable to care for themselves left in the cold. No. I don’t agree with every aspect of private care. And yes most businesses are usually only in it for the money. But that does not mean the people working within them feel the same. They need help just as much as the rest of them. They are continuously risking their health knowing that if they do get sick that they likely won’t afford any of their bills this month. Do you think you could live on £94.25 a week to pay your bills, feed yourself and your children and your dog, put petrol in your car? Because I know I wouldn’t be able to. This is statutory sick pay. And though we are thankful for what we have, during this time of crisis I feel the government should look after all professionals who are looking after others. I am in no way looking down on the NHS. They are the backbone of this country. But there are other people working through all of this.

Let’s help ALL of our health and social care sector.

Public and Private!

Because without all of them. Where would we be?                                                                               bb1a588756055b11bd86c62fdad3ceb1

I’m Back!!

I have been very quiet for a while now.

I just renewed my NMC for the very first time. It’s mad to think that I have been doing my job for a full year now.

I thoroughly enjoy working in a nursing home caring for people with frail and dementia based conditions. I feel it is soo rewarding and I am so blessed to have a job that I enjoy going to.

However, I feel I need to go back to my field and find a job within learning disabilities. This is what I studied for and this is what I truly love.

More updates soon with more facts and information about nursing and nursing studies.

 

 

 

Bedtime Thoughts

It’s at this time of the evening that I usually decide to go to bed (21:39). This is when my body is telling me I have to get up at 5am and that I won’t cope if I don’t get a few Zzzzzzzz’s.

However, this is the time when my mind starts to wander. This is when I start thinking about household chores, about buying a pet, about the price of my rent. Anything that can pop into my head which stops me from sleeping.

Knowing I have to get up at 5am seems to make my neighbours louder. Seems to make every creak from pipes in the walls sound like they are right in front of me. Every small glow of light appears like a bright ray of sunshine.

Sleep. Where are you? Where have you gone? And will you ever return?

From the hopefully staff nurse whose working a shift in the morning.

Surviving placements as a student nurse

I completely understand! student-nurses-day

Placements are some of the hardest aspects of becoming a nurse. At times you can have the worst mentors for a 12-week placement and it just makes you want to quit. DONT!

Believe me, I’ve had some of the worst mentors when I was training but if you survive it you will be a stronger person. You will know that you can go through anything to ensure that your patient has the best quality care.

Here are some of my tips to survive life as a student nurse, some will sound obvious, and somewhat ridiculous, but they are essential:

  • Stay hydrated: You have no idea the number of nurses who have issues in relation to their kidneys because don’t drink enough fluids throughout the day. Save yourself a trip to the doctors and keep drinking water. This will also help when studying and lastly with your skin when you get breakouts because of constant snacking.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions: You are a student. No one will expect you to know everything (especially when you are in the first year). You have a mentor to guide you through your placements and their job is to answer questions you may be embarrassed to ask. If they are not around, it is the job of other staff members on the ward point you in the right direction.
  • Never refer to a patient as their condition: There is more to a person than their condition and our jobs are built around being person-centred. Introduce yourself, converse with them and treat them like individuals with a range of different needs.
  • Reflect: Reflect on each placement or each new experience to ensure that you can build on your own knowledge and grow as a professional. Separate it into 3 sections; [1]what happened, [2]how you felt about it and [3]what will you do in the future.
  • Ask for feedback: Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback. This is another way you can gather more information for your reflection. Your mentors are there for this and learning how to improve your skills is your job as a student nurse.
  • Sleep: I know when you come home from a long shift you sometimes end up watching a movie. I know you have assignments. But getting a good nights sleep will really help you on your way. You are looking after other peoples lives and you can’t do that on 4 hours of sleep a night. It takes you misreading a medication label to make a mistake which can dramatically change someone’s life.                                “You can’t look after someone else if you don’t look after yourself first” – Someone Smart (probably a nurse haha).
  • Don’t neglect your social life: You will have deadlines. You will have long placements. But don’t forget to enjoy yourself when you are a student. You get discount into clubs. You get cheap drinks and you can have fun. Student nurses are some of the hardest workers I know, so don’t waste your time at university killing your social life. ENJOY BEING A STUDENT!

 

What is a learning disability?

A learning disability can also be referred to as an intellectual disability.

A learning disability is a condition which affects the way in which an individual understands information and how they communicate with people.

This can mean that people with a learning disability can have difficulties:

  • understanding new or complex information
  • learning new skills
  • coping independently

According to the Foundation for People with Learning Disabilities (2011), there are approximately 1.5 million people in the UK with a learning disability.

Diagnosis

Learning disabilities are usually diagnosed during childhood but can occur from serious head trauma, both external (serious injury) and internal (strokes, etc.).

Learning disabilities can be categorised by IQ, but this is more of a guideline which is used by the health and social care sector as not every person with a learning disability has undergone an IQ or behaviour assessments:

  • Mild LD          – IQ= 50-70 (mental age of 9-12 years)
  • Moderate LD – IQ= 35-49 (mental age of 6-9 years)
  • Severe LD      – IQ= 20-34 (mental age of 3-6 years)
  • Profound LD – IQ= 20 and below (mental age of fewer than 3 years

The average IQ of a person in the UK is 100.

Using this method of IQ assessments will help the healthcare professional to determine what skills the individual has and what support they would require to live a higher quality of life.

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