Dementia services boost for Blackpool Teaching Hospitals

Sarah Ward, Dementia Lead Nurse

Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has continued its drive to improve care for patients by appointing its first Dementia Lead Nurse.

Sarah Ward joined the Trust in December and is already making a significant impact on dementia and learning disability services within community services.

Sarah’s previous experiences have been as clinical lead for the complex need services in central Lancashire, a role which saw her engaging with communities from Ormskirk all the way up to Lancaster. And now that she has had an opportunity to get her feet under the desk and get familiar with her new surroundings, Sarah is determined to make a real difference.

“It’s a new role, so it is ever developing and quite exciting because it is like a blank page,” Sarah said.

“My role will be looking at dementia and learning disability services from a strategic level. I am really keen to be quite visible, I want people to know who I am what I do.

“It is about that patient experience and the patient journey; not just about when people are in hospital, but how do we discharge people and get people safely out into the community, with the right support.”

Sarah’s immediate challenge will be the complex task of engaging with individuals and families during the restrictions of COVID, but she is determined that all parties receive the vital and necessary support they need.

“Obviously there some massive challenges at the minute about how we all get together, but there are ways around this,” Sarah continued.

“Families and carers, they are the experts, they know that individual, they know their needs and their wants and wishes so it is vital that we work in partnership with them.

“Co-design and co-production with carers, families and service providers is vital. It is really important that we engage and consult with them, as they are living and breathing it every day, so I really truly believe that they are the experts.”

Whilst it is still early days, Sarah already has plans and projects in the pipeline to make positive changes to patient care.

She said: “I have got lots of things in my mind and I have had some informal conversations with the learning disability team. We will be looking at relaunching the learning disability guides and looking what their role will be, particularly because of COVID and how we can support people with a learning disability at this challenging time.

“I’m really looking forward developing my role, and have spent my first weeks with the Trust getting to know people, finding my way around , and getting lost quite a lot. So now I have met most the key people I will be working with I feel confident, and really looking forward to a new year and getting cracking.”

Peter Murphy, Director of Nursing, Quality and AHPs, added: “Sarah is a fantastic leader with an impressive background in the complex needs cases in communities across Lancashire.  I am confident that our services and our patients will benefit from her appointment as well as her vast experience.”

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