Q: What does your job involve?
A: I deliver care to our residents, but also make sure that my team of nurses and carers have the right knowledge, skills and experience, so that, together, we do what’s best for the residents and their families. My job therefore involves a fair bit training and, crucially, making sure that staff put their training into practice. If you were to give me a specific label, you would probably describe me as an end of life care specialist. It’s a job I love – I’ve been giving care for over 42 years as a nurse.
Nursing care is quite complex, particularly when you’re supporting residents living with dementia, because you have to think about each individual’s emotional wellbeing, their physical wellbeing, and the fact that the disease process means that one day can be very different to the next. So you have to be able to go with the flow. If it’s a good day for the resident, you should make the most of it, if not, you have to draw on your expertise to help make sure they’re as comfortable as possible.
Q: What does an average day look like?
A: Well, we start the day with a handover so that everybody is up to date with how the residents have been in the last 24 hours. Because there are two teams, you have to make sure that communication is good. At the handover, everybody gets to know where they’re working, which residents they are supporting, and the special things that we need to watch out for that day. For example, if a resident’s got a urine infection, we make sure that they’ll get plenty of fluids, if a resident’s not been eating well, we’ll support them with their meals, and if a resident’s starting new medication, we’ll watch out for any side effects.
Q: What specialist care do you provide?
A: We offer a wide range of nursing care, including respite, recuperation and dementia care. Most of our permanent residents need highly skilled nursing and physiotherapy to keep them comfortable. There are lots of jobs we do on a daily basis, for example providing residents with their medication. Medication only works if it’s given in the right way at the right time. So, for example, Parkinson’s drugs are very prescriptive and have to be given exactly on time, so you have to be very much on the ball for that.
Q: How do you approach caring for those living with Dementia?
A: At Cramond, Dementia care is led by the residents’ needs and wishes. If a person is not capable of telling you, then you have to work it out. For example, if you don’t know whether someone prefers a bath or a shower and you support them with shower and they hate it, then you’ve learned something and you can try supporting them with a bubble bath next time. We also learn from their family members. So it’s about reading the signs and learning about each resident by nursing them with care and attention.
Q: Please explain the post-operative care you provide
A: Probably one of the most important types of nursing care we provide is post-op care and management. Unfortunately, hospitals at the moment are under stress and need to free up their beds, but many people are not ready to go home and live independently. So we provide a nice bridge between leaving hospital and home. We do all necessary wound care, physiotherapy and pain management.
Q: Why is respite care important?
A: Respite care is either planned or needed in an emergency. Sometimes families just need a break from acting as carers, so their loved one comes to us for a holiday and then goes back to their family. But sometimes the main carer is the one who takes ill at home. In such a case the person being cared for comes and join us until their career is better or until a care package is put in place. So respite is very important. It also allows people to ‘try before they buy’. So someone might just come in for a fortnight and think, actually I quite like this, I think I’ll stay.
Q: How do you provide end-of-life care?
A: At the end of somebody’s life, it’s very important that we get everything right and make sure that no resident is in distress or pain. Helping families cope with what’s happening is also vital. For example, this week I sat with two daughters and a granddaughter, who’d come down from up north, to see their mum and granny, and they were struggling with her rapid deterioration. It was important to spend time with them and explain to them what was happening in a compassionate way.
Q: What makes the care given at Cramond special?
A: First, we have an excellent ratio of staff to residents. For example, today I’ve got six people on duty to support 18 residents. That’s really good numbers in comparison with other care home around here. However, it is the expertise and attitude of all of the staff that sets us apart. I have only ever witnessed kindness here, absolute kindness. Everybody – the housekeeping staff, the chef, the kitchen staff, the food serving assistants, the nurses, the carers – are all so kind. It’s lovely to watch.
Q: What is the atmosphere at Cramond like?
A: Let me give you an example. Last Sunday, the laughter on ground floor was just amazing with some of the residents enjoying a wee jig, with lots of smiles and happiness. And today I saw one of our residents helping another with their meal in a kind and attentive way. We obviously monitored what was happening closely, but it was lovely to see them getting on so well together.
Q: Why would you recommend Cramond Residence?
A: I would definitely recommend Cramond Residence, and I did just that last week. An ex colleague phoned me up to ask about care for his mum, because she wasn’t coping at home anymore. I recommended them to Cramond, because of the quality of our care and the fact that the home is full of kindness.
Q: What training and experience do you bring to the job?
A: I was registered as a nurse back in 1981, I then spent 15 years in the NHS as an orthopaedic specialist, so I know what to do when there are any falls and fractures. I then spent 15 years with the Leonard Cheshire charity and worked in a senior management and training role that involved quality assurance, investigating complaints, and leading and directing teams. Then I moved into the private sector providing care for the elderly. My last job before Cramond was as general manager of a nursing home. I have postgraduate qualifications in management, learning and development.
Q: What do you like to do outside of work?
A: Reading. I do a lot of reading. I also like swimming and sewing. In fact, I take up the trousers on the uniforms of some of the staff here, because they’re too long for some of the shorter nurses, so I actually mix my hobby with work.