My latest blog on my Admiral Nursing Journey - by Jakki Whitehead

Jakki Whitehead, an experienced care professional, is training to become one of dementia care’s ‘beacons of excellence’ – an Admiral Nurse. This blog follows her journey from day one.



November 2016 

Since I last wrote back in August a lot has happened on the Admiral Nurse front.

In September, I went to the annual Admiral Nurse Forum where all Admiral Nurses and Dementia UK staff get together to look at best practice.

This year it was about the place of art in dementia care for people with dementia and their carers, paid or otherwise. We looked at the use of singing, music, dance, physical activity, poetry, cinema and theatre. All of these are recognised in reducing anxiety and stimulating memory and cognition.
We also discussed the importance of the carer role and looking after the carer

A very moving speaker was Tommy Whitelaw from Dementia Carers’ Voices, who looked after his mum. See Tommy share his experiences on YouTube. He spoke of how he assisted his mum through her journey with dementia and the pain he experienced whilst being with her due to the ignorance around dementia.

Tommy said “When people make decisions about you rather than with you then you are on your own.”

This enabled me to realise how important it is for me to continue to raise the recognition of paid carers for our residents as people with life stories, loves and relationships and using this awareness to honour the individual and their families and both of their emotions and experiences.

To this end I have been discussing developing the dementia champion role within Riversway to help carers to understand this and to help limit this lack of sensitivity through awareness of some of the issues experienced by relatives.

Another message was that singing is a very powerful way of connecting with people with dementia and benefits people physically - heart, lungs, brain, posture, breathing and speech; mentally - new skills, achievements, confidence and improvement in mood; and socially - meeting new people. Anyone can sing even if the tune may be a little unconventional and it does mean that everyone’s voice is heard.

I know from experience that singing can really help benefit residents’ wellbeing. At a recent resident and relative group my manager Jan said “Does anyone have anything else to add?” A resident who had sat quietly throughout said “Well do you know we haven’t done any singing yet!” and launched into Oh I do like to be beside the seaside.

Maybe we should end all of our meetings with a song!



Click HERE to read my 1st blog (May 2016) - My Journey to become an Admiral Nurse

Click HERE to read my 2nd blog (June 2016)- My Admiral Nursing Journey

Click HERE to read my 3rd blog (July 2016) - My Admiral Nursing Journey

Click HERE to read my 4th blog (August 2016) - My Admiral Nursing Journey




My latest blog on my Admiral Nursing journey - by Jakki Whitehead

Jakki Whitehead, an experienced care professional, is training to become one of dementia care’s ‘beacons of excellence’ – an Admiral Nurse. This blog follows her journey from day one.


August 2016

I have now had my interview with Ian from the Admiral Nurse Service, Rachel from Dementia UK and Jan, my manager.

The interview got off to a good start when Ian told me he had read my Blog!

I had to give a presentation about the best practice principles of the Admiral Nurse service. These are:

  • High quality support following diagnosis. This was recognised as being very important to people diagnosed with dementia and their families by the National Dementia Strategy in 2009. Good support is often brought up by families as being crucial following diagnosis in order to be able to cope with the life changing news. It does not seem to happen as often as it should.

  • Meeting standards set out in papers such as the Mental Capacity Act, the Care Act, CQC standards, NICE guidelines for dementia and the Prime Minister’s challenge 2020. All of these are important in giving a voice to people with dementia and their families and in safeguarding their wellbeing

  • Whole family support I have mentioned in a previous blog the importance of caring for the whole family, as a dementia diagnosis will often affect everyone. Their initial thoughts and feelings through to dealing with the varied emotions that result from experiencing the loss of the person they knew as the dementia progresses.

  • Partnership working which I took to mean as the importance of good communication with other professionals and services working with the person with dementia and their families. To ensure that everyone is singing from the same song sheet.

  • Finally, Cross service education, the Admiral Nurse service and Dementia UK are very hot on rolling out education about dementia and this starts with ensuring that the Admiral Nurses know what they are talking about to help give good advice and support to people with dementia, families and other professionals.


There were other questions about the Admiral Nurse Standards and the Competency Framework which are put in place in order to ensure good practice.


The interview process was challenging but enlivening and half an hour later I found out that I had been accepted to join the Admiral Nurse service.


I was delighted as I have been working towards this for 5 years. I received congratulations from the Springhill team but I, in turn, thanked them for the opportunity to develop my ambition. I must wait now until September and October when there will be forums, inductions and best practice days.


I will catch you up with my progress in the future but that night I went out for a lovely meal and a large glass of wine.



By Jakki Whitehead, Service Manager for People with Dementia, Riversway Nursing Home




Click HERE to read my 1st  blog (May 2016) - My Journey to become an Admiral Nurse

Click HERE to read my 2nd blog (June 2016)- My Admiral Nursing Journey

Click HERE to read my 3rd blog (July 2016) - My Admiral Nursing Journey 




Healthy Homes by Virginia Perkins

When I joined the Springhill Care Group just over a year ago, I knew one of my priorities would be to increase health and wellbeing throughout the workforce.

One of my roles is to promote the welfare of staff across the entire group, and to me this doesn’t just mean ensuring the correct number of holidays are allocated and appraisals are carried out on time (although these jobs are of course important).

At Springhill, people are the centre of everything we do, and this includes our dedicated workforce. As a result, working with the management team, I have implemented a number of health and wellbeing initiatives to help staff keep in good health.

Busy jobs and busy lives can mean people just don’t make time to look after themselves, and I know from experience that there is much that can be done to help. 

As a result, I liaised with our chefs and we have collated a selection of menu cards featuring healthy recipes from various sources which are affordable, easy to make and part of a balanced diet, these will be available in the next few weeks.  We've already made a start collating menu cards / recipes on our Pinterest board - to view click HERE  - Lot's more will be added over the next few months.

Staff are also being provided with a selection of fresh fruit to encourage healthy snacking and also pedometers to monitor how many steps a day they take, as we know working in the care sector can be physically demanding with employees walking many steps each day as part of their everyday duties.  Information and guidance sheets with tips and advice are also available to help them set out and achieve their individual goals and hopefully go on to take the NHS 10.000 steps challenge .

Recently, we launched the first of our health check days. Springhill Care Home in Accrington was visited by a registered nurse offering staff assistance and advice on a range of topics including mental health issues like stress and anxiety, blood pressure, weight and BMI.

I was very pleased to see that the nurse was quickly booked up all day by staff keen to take part, and we’re now planning on rolling out similar days at the rest of the care group. Our aim is to hold health check days three times a year at each of our homes.

These are just a few examples of what we will be offering staff over coming months, so do check back to find out more as we can announce it.


By Virginia Perkins

Head of Human Recourses

Springhill Care Group



My Admiral Nursing journey by Jakki Whitehead

Jakki Whitehead, an experienced care professional, is training to become one of dementia care’s ‘beacons of excellence’ – an Admiral Nurse. This blog follows her journey from day one.


July 2016

I’m now awaiting an interview and presentation with Dementia UK, the next step in becoming an Admiral Nurse.

One of the reasons I am so passionate about this journey is the emphasis we at Springhill Care Group place on person-centred care, and I want to write a little about why.

I have been in mental health practice for 30 years, working as a ward-based nurse then as a community psychiatric nurse, and finally as a dementia specialist nurse and service manager for people with dementia.

My training background was very much based on both people and relationships, and working in a care home is ideal for carrying out this type of work.

Person-centred care encourages people to see the person not the disease, creating a positive care environment. We use a special model of care for people with dementia, taking into account factors including neurological impairment, health, personality, biography and social environment to assist the resident.

Relationship-centred care focuses on people with dementia, the family carer and care home carer. It takes into account factors including security (feeling safer), belonging (feeling part of a group and maintaining relationships) and achievement (reaching valued goals).

This is all about creating the right environment. If people with dementia, their family carers and staff are helped to understand someone’s process of dementia, and their input is valued and encouraged they, in turn, will value and encourage the person with dementia.

During my journey to becoming an Admiral Nurse I will be supported by Springhill Care Group’s management, and helped to grow professionally through supervision and best practice.

I’m looking forward to developing a new kind of dementia care environment, supporting staff and relatives and enhancing the well-being of the most important people – those living with dementia.

I look forward to sharing more with you as I learn.


By Jakki Whitehead, Service Manager for People with Dementia, Riversway Nursing Home



Click HERE to read my 1st  blog (May 2016) - My Journey to become an Admiral Nurse

Click HERE to read my 2nd blog (June 2016)- My Admiral Nursing Journey


To learn more about Admiral Nurses on DementiaUK click HERE to be redirected to the website. 


Guest Blog -A different perspective – learning about life with dementia by John Pomfret, CQC Registration Inspector.

Ken Nolan, Chairman, Springhill Care and John Pomfret, CQC Registration InspectorAs a CQC inspector I am a regular visitor to care homes up and down the country, and I well know the impact dementia can have on a family’s life. So when I was invited to attend Springhill Care Home’s recent open day in Accrington I happily agreed.


While at Springhill I spent time talking with Ken Nolan, the founder and chairman, and heard his perspective as an owner and care provider – particularly in relation to the current financial climate – which was very interesting.


While I was there I also took part in a ‘dementia simulator’ thought up by staff at the home. This included inspired little touches such as partially obscured swimming goggles, gloves with corn kernels in the fingertips and headphones with discordant sounds playing. By wearing this equipment the theory is you can better understand what it means to live with dementia.


The experience was very disconcerting. Even carrying out day-to-day jobs like locating a jug and glass in relation to each other and returning them again. Picking them up in particular, was very difficult, as was doing buttons up.


I did a few of the challenges but it took me a very long time, and I was very conscious of people watching as well.


It’s very useful to put yourself in that situation and I would urge anyone with the opportunity to try such a simulator to do so. You don’t see people around you; you know they are there but you don’t engage with them and you feel totally isolated.


As someone working within the care sector I am always conscious that I don’t forget about the importance of understanding the people who live in the homes I visit. That’s what it’s all about, and this was a great way to help.


By John Pomfret

CQC Registration Inspector.



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