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Specialist dementia care nurse Gaynor Harrison sums up her busy first year at Nautilus Mariners' Park as 'helping people make sense of change'.
Her main role is to act as a consultant supporting the staff who care for residents with dementia – whether the residents live in the Mariners' Park Care Home, the Trinity House Hub or the wider community.
Admiral nurse Gaynor works part-time over 18 hours in a role funded for two years by the Nautilus Welfare Fund, Trinity House, and Seafarers Hospital Society, which means two nine-hour days a week at Mariners' Park.
In the Mariners' Park Care Home this means working with care staff to address any difficulties a resident might have. Out in the community, it is about assisting staff who work with families to help them live well with dementia, and to be able to stay together at home. That can involve assessments, writing to GPs to ask for referrals to various services, and deciding on what support mechanisms can be put in place to keep people living at home for as long as they can.
'You have to be quite creative in terms of accessing services in the community, because care is in crisis as a whole and there are almost no services,' Gaynor says. 'It is often about pulling in support from charities.'
Gaynor acknowledges that the difficulties and guilt families face when transitioning their loved one into care can be akin to bereavement. Her key advice to them is not to suffer alone. It is also important get a formal diagnosis to access support services and benefits.
Covid-19 challenges include the lack of usual social interaction for family members who often used to meet up at the Care Home for moral support. For that reason, Gaynor has started a safe face to face support group for families at the Trinity House Hub. The Care Home also has a beautiful sensory garden where it is safer to meet.