I had been working in the older age mental health area for about 11 months continuously, both in Junior Doctor Roles and Locum roles when I started to consider older age as my career speciality. The reason for that was that it brings together several areas of psychiatry including things you would see in adult mental health, for example depression, psychosis and anxiety. But you also have people with dementia, which is probably the most exciting of all mental health disorders because there is a very direct connection between what the brain does and what the person presents with.
I find it very interesting, mostly because of the stories people have to share, you can have amazing conversations with older people about their lifetime, about how they survived the war, raising their children and their retirement. So there’s an entire breadth of life that you can go through within end of life care plans, that you don’t get with any other speciality.
We work closely with our GP colleagues and we set up a regular training scheme, where I would go into individual GP surgeries and give them a talk about what service we provide and how we could jointly manager patients.
That was hugely successful.
We were able to free up more spaces for people with early dementia symptoms because we were discharging patients for GP follow up, this meant that many patients were able to be diagnosed early. The GPs told us that if they had a tool to help them assess people for dementia symptoms, it would be greatly beneficial, and so I came up with ‘FORGET’, which is an acronym for dementia symptoms. This allowed GPs to easily and quickly assess patients. This tool was presented at the national dementia conference this year, and that was truly amazing – a real highlight for me and my colleagues as it took about five years to get to this point.
I have really enjoyed my journey here, trying to do things for the service, trying to do things for our patients and I feel genuinely supported and appreciated by members of staff and managers here at Southern Health.
I do really look forward to coming to work each day, sometimes very early!