Many thanks to Allison Tait for our latest viewpoint guest blog, which provides an insight into the role of General Practice Nurses and the impact they can have. We would also like to thank them for their ongoing commitment to making a difference to people with dementia and their carers.
Time to Pledge to Make a Difference
On the 15th of May 2014 Tommy Whitelaw came to the Scottish Practice Nurse Conference. The conference was well attended with General Practice Nurses coming from all over Scotland. Tommy was our first speaker on the day. For most of us working in General Practice this would be our first introduction to an exciting new project from the Health and Social Care Alliance. It is the Dementia Carer Voices project and calls upon Scotland’s Health and Social Care professionals to consider how they can assist people with dementia and their carers’.
Many of us have been in nursing and in primary care for many years and Tommy had us reflecting on how we could make a difference. Tommy is an amazing man who told us of his mother Joan and their subsequent journey as dementia entered their lives. The feedback to the Practice Nurses who organised the conference included “we should have put tissues on the table”. He reminded us of why we came into nursing and how we could make a difference in the lives of those touched with dementia.
Tommy told us of his experience and how he and Joan attended the reception of his local practice to seek help and support whilst he felt he was drowning with the numerous and varied needs that they had. As she didn’t have an appointment he was effectively turned away and given leaflets to read. There wasn’t one of us in the room who didn’t think that our practices could have turned Tommy and his Mum away and we wondered how and if we could make a difference in any way.
We do have the ability to make a difference and we are well placed at the heart of General Practice to this – every one of us.
According to figures from the Information Services Division Scotland (ISD), practice nurse consultations increased to 7.6m in 2011/12, compared to 6.1m the previous year – and now account for 30% of all practice consultations. GPNs are at the very centre of General Practice and support the ethos of the RCGP campaign to ‘Put Patients First’. It’s known that patients value general practice very highly, and rank GPs as one of the most trusted of all professions. We have to ensure that we are all worthy of accolade by helping Tommy and making pledges to support him in his task to ensure Dementia Carer Voices are heard.
We all made pledges that day at the conference and to go back to our practices and inspire the folks there to also make pledges. Some of the pledges were left on the table and I read some of them before sending them back; there were moving and inspirational.
I have asked everyone in our practice from receptionists, , Managers, GPNs to the GPs to read the Dementia Voices literature. The pledges have been great; the receptionists pledged to listen more at the desk, the GPs pledged to look at the pathway for blood results to make sure a patient with dementia got the results, to look at who was not attending and follow this up. We pledged to ask if there was anything else we could offer when we are with patients. That was May and now it is September and the new trainee GPs have started and I have given them the literature and invited them to consider how they could make a difference and pledge. The plan is we will remind everyone of their pledges later in the year to see how they are fulfilling their pledges.
Tommy will have his exhibition of the pledges at the Scottish Parliament later on in the year.
For more information and on how to make a pledge please have a look at our Get Involved section of our website https://dementiacarervoices.wordpress.com/get-involved/
Dr Sam Tang new GP trainee and new receptionist Denise Crosby