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Angela Lindsay - Pharmacist and Dementia Champion

In her role as lead clinical pharmacist, Angela has a strong commitment to day-to-day involvement with elderly patients. She sees many people with dementia and has developed a particular interest in this area. She was fortunate to have the opportunity to be working in a hospital which had recently established a new ward developed specifically for patients with dementia. 

This interest and experience led Angela to identify both a service and a personal need to improve care for patients with dementia. She felt it essential to increase her knowledge and skills in this area so she could more effectively meet the needs of this particular group of patients and, in turn help, to improve their experience in the unit/hospital.

Angela heard about the Dementia Champions programme and made initial contact with a pharmacy colleague in NES to get more information and establish criteria for participation on the programme. From there she was put in touch with a representative from the University of West of Scotland, the delivery partners for the programme, to discuss the training and specifically what a pharmacist could contribute through becoming a Dementia Champion.

It was on the basis of that discussion that Angela applied for and secured a place in the 3rd cohort of Dementia Champions which she started in October 2012 and completed in early 2013.

She found accessing resources on the NES website - the Promoting Excellence Framework, Informed about Dementia, the Managed Knowledge Network for Dementia and the Promoting Excellence in Dementia care newsletters etc.-  a vital source of information and support throughout the course.

Angela said: "Having now completed the programme, I realise that the course was just the start of my learning and commitment to promoting improved care for people with dementia. I have a responsibility now to share my learning and experience with my pharmacy colleagues at all levels to try and change practice within my sphere of influence - which is, in my particular case - within the acute hospital setting.

“I now belong to a network of Dementia Champions in Glasgow which includes a diverse range of professionals:  nurses, speech therapists and physiotherapists, among others. We are coordinated by NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde’s Alzheimer Scotland Dementia Nurse Specialist, meeting up as regularly as we can to share learning and provide support."

One of the assignments during the Dementia Champions programme involves a Workplace Evaluation where the trainee on the course has to go back to their area of work and engage with colleagues to review their service against four of the Quality of Life Indicators as set out in the Promoting Excellence Framework. In this exercise, Angela involved pharmacists and pharmacy technicians in identifying areas of good practice and areas where improvements could be made. The results of this evaluation are then used to draw up a plan for the final “Change” assignment which is about “making a change” in your area to improve care for people with dementia.

On completion of this element of the course, Angela said: "One of the key areas of learning for me was that pharmacy staff are not always aware of the symptoms of dementia or of the many and complex issues that can affect people with dementia, particularly within the hospital environment.  Staff were not always confident about communicating with the patients and highlighted their wish for more information and support to allow them to engage more effectively with them.

“We need more awareness across our workforce and that is why part of my Change Assignment has been to start delivering dementia awareness sessions - roadshows -  to pharmacy staff on the acute hospital sites within NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde promoting and utilising the same NES resources I found to be so helpful during my own training”.

She went on: "I am using the opportunity of getting out and speaking to people on these issues to highlight a vital area of practice and to embed/promote the Promoting Excellence Framework now. The recently published National Dementia Care Action Plan for Acute Care has already identified the need to develop the workforce against the Framework as one of their 10 actions to improve care for people with dementia and staff will undoubtedly be hearing more and more about this following the publication of Scotland’s 2nd National Dementia Strategy (June 2013).  

“People are responding extremely positively which is great, and I've now started receiving requests to take the roadshow into other sectors of pharmacy services too."

The Dementia message is getting out there, particularly through this Champion.