In December 2020, I was delighted to be appointed as the new Alzheimer Scotland Dementia Consultant for NHS Dumfries and Galloway. The Consultant roles are a joint commitment by Scottish Government, Alzheimer Scotland and the NHS Boards; contributing to leadership within Board areas, driving and improving care for people with dementia in hospital and community settings.
Not only was the leadership role new to me, for the first time my role as a dementia leader I had responsibility for both nursing and allied health professionals. Providing an opportunity to strengthen the contribution of a Dementia Consultant post, enabling us to think and work differently as a diverse group of health care professionals.
Diversity has been a topic much in the news in the last year (alongside Covid news). Issues relating to BAME, race equality, as well as gender diversity have never been far from the headlines and therefore our awareness and conversations.
When I think about diversity I’m reminded of the board game Trivial Pursuits and the coloured pie pieces. While it appears simple the whole aim for success in the game is to include everyone’s knowledge strengths in the Team, on all the topics (colours), creating a diversely colourful pie container. The game is a safe way to teach us and our children how to operate in a team, valuing and relying on each other’s strengths in order to be successful and also have fun together. While the game is fun the real life messages and life-skills, which enable us to respond well to and manage diversity in our lives, are essential to build communities in which we can all thrive.
Thinking about diversity also leads me to thinking about dementia and the Rights Based Approach upon which our Scottish Dementia Strategy has been built over the past decades. A proud dementia heritage, which has been world leading in dementia care. When thinking about how we continue to design, build and improve services to be inclusive of the needs of people with dementia we fundamentally in Scotland know that diversity is key –
“when you have met one person with dementia, you have met one person with dementia”
“no one can make the change towards quality care for people with dementia alone”
Building quality relationships, ones where we recognise, respect and value our differences, is the glue which holds us all together; gets the job not only done but done well, in a way which matters to us as people. In my new role I joined a well established national network of Dementia Nurse and AHP Consultants from across Scotland and am aware of all the excellent work which has already been done. So far these new relationships, with national groups, have been all in a virtual, digital world. The digital disconnect can make it difficult to establish relationships which feel connected, real and human. Those vital conversations over coffee in a meeting break, getting to know the person behind the role and job title. Having a giggle, sharing frustrations with traffic and travel, or a fun story from the weekend about a new pet. While the digital connections don’t feel the same, the possibility to connect, kindly and meaningfully is always possible and our need to do this remains. Never underestimate the value of a What’s App group, Twitter post or Teams chat, even for the less digitally native amongst us.
So as my first year in this new role comes to an end I’m left listening intently to the wisdom of a colleague, echoing the words of the Bard himself, that what matters most is to be true to myself – becoming the best version of a Dementia Consultant that I can be. And to do this with kindness, connecting with others, ensuring we continue to build a diverse future for people and communities in Scotland, inclusive of the needs of people with dementia.
Alzheimer Scotland Dementia Consultant (AHP/OT) (she/her)
NHS Dumfries and Galloway
Title: “To your own self be true”
Sourced From: letstalkaboutdementia.wordpress.com/2021/11/25/to-your-own-self-be-true/
Published Date: Thu, 25 Nov 2021 07:00:00 +0000
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