Chief Nursing Officer

Was that a mouse I saw in the recovery room?

June 24, 2019 by 1 Comment | Category Uncategorized

Compassionate, innovative leadership and care were the resounding take-home messages for me on my recent visit to NHS Fife. At the end of Dementia Awareness Week I visited Victoria Hospital, Kirkcaldy on the day Alzheimer Scotland’s Dementia Nurse Consultants launched their report. Although it was a whistle-stop tour of all the dementia-related innovations, I was hugely impressed and encouraged by everybody I met and what I saw.

It was a privilege to meet with staff who had seen the challenge of providing person centred rights based care to people living with dementia and their loved ones, and risen to it. The practices I observed have been largely driven through the leadership of the Nurse Consultants as well as the national lead AHP Consultant and often stimulated by the Dementia Champions. Many will be replicated across NHS Boards and Health and Social Care Partnerships – but many I believe were cutting edge and worth a visit.

Alexa, play calming music

From the use of Alexa in a ward for older people with cognitive impairment; I was touched by the emotion the nurse felt when telling me about how using whale song calmed one of her patients who had been hugely distressed. Who knew Alexa would have enabled person centred care for some of our most vulnerable patients?

AHP practice

There were some excellent examples of where AHPs had been able to respond with professional interventions to support people with dementia – across the health and social care partnership as well as acute in-patient settings – and provide professional support and advice to families and other health care professionals. This was a wonderful example of multi-disciplinary multi agency working in practice. Although in the reminiscing materials for older people I felt just a bit too much familiarity.

Through the patient journey

From A&E to acute wards, including theatre – it was obvious that care and attention had been given to how to support people with dementia in the acute setting. I was delighted to learn about how NHS Fife is responding to supporting nutrition. Through their Making Meals Matter approach, relatives are welcomed at mealtimes on a very person centred approach. This was being echoed with regards to visiting – supported by learning from the excellent approach in NHS Grampian with regards to their Welcome Wards. Essentially, loved ones are welcome any time to support their relative – so perhaps the end of visiting times altogether?

In A&E, the team had reflected on how to best support people with dementia, including the use of Playlist for Life – iPod at the ready. On a separate note, I loved the fact that one of the Consultant Medical Staff had started a ‘staff care box’. Snacks and drinks were available to those in the team needing an energy boost at any time during their shift – great to see staff caring for each other.

Dogs and mice in NHS Fife

There were many stand out moments on my visit – probably the most memorable was the enthusiasm and professionalism of all staff I met. But the quirky moments included meeting Kim the dog in a busy acute orthopaedic receiving unit (all, of course, agreed with the Infection Prevention and Control Team) – who was a regular, and popular, visitor to the ward to help some of the patients connect and communicate.

And finally, the mouse in the recovery room. A local artist had been commissioned to paint a beautiful mural on one of the walls where the team nursed people with dementia during their recovery from theatre. Helen Buchanan, Director of Nursing, told me about how the artist worked with the Infection Prevention and Control team to find paint that was compliant with cleaning standards – not the easiest to work with. And the artist couldn’t help popping a beautiful little field mouse into the corner of her work – which I hope is the only mouse in any theatre across NHS Scotland!

The mural and being told of visits by the recovery nurse to meet the patient and their family before surgery, the family welcomed into theatre to support their loved one prior to receiving anaesthetic and also after their operation, along with playlist for life – were truly heart-warming.


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