Lynsey Hannant, NNUH Dementia Palliative Care Nurse

Spotlight on the region’s first hospital Dementia Palliative Care Nurse

As part of Dementia Action Week, we will be shining a spotlight on our work to support patients living with dementia and their families.

Lynsey Hannant is our first Dementia Palliative Care Nurse and took up the role in January 2020. Lynsey started her nursing career in older people’s medicine at the Trust in 2007 before joining oncology and haematology working on Mulbarton Ward and the Acute Oncology Service.

She said: “With my experience of caring for patients living with dementia and my palliative care experience, the Dementia Palliative Care Nurse Specialist role was something that I wanted to have the opportunity to be part of and develop. The post has generously been funded for three years by charitable funds. We know that people living with dementia face additional complications at the end of life and I love to make a difference to patient’s end of life care needs, ensuring they receive the correct specialist input as well as supporting families at a really difficult time.”

Lynsey is based within the Palliative Care team at NNUH and also works closely with the Dementia Support team.

“I offer advice, holistic assessments and care planning to identify and manage symptoms associated with advanced dementia and end of life such as pain, terminal agitation, breathlessness, secretions and nausea and vomiting. As well as end of life care planning, support with physical, emotional and psychological issues. I offer advice and support around coming to terms with the progression of dementia and likely deterioration, support with discharge, as well as education and signposting to other educational resources.

“Due to the pandemic I’ve not been able to carry out the role as planned but have predominantly supported the Covid wards with the symptom management and end of life care needs of patients alongside communicating with families, supporting the nursing teams on the wards and working closely with the medical teams.”

Lynsey is currently part of a quality improvement project to determine staff confidence when caring for someone who is end of life with dementia and to establish an education programme within the Trust.

She is also working alongside the Dementia Support Team to develop a Dementia and Cancer support group at the NNUH.

She said: “Starting a brand new role at the start of a pandemic was definitely eye opening and the biggest challenge in my career as a nurse so far. The last year has been a complete challenge but also very rewarding at the same time. In such a short time I have gained a vast amount of experience, built great working relationships with many teams within the Trust and am privileged to work within two supportive teams. I have been able to support many patients and their families through some difficult times.

“In usual times we would support families on the wards to help develop realistic expectations and coping mechanisms to provide compassionate and individualised care to these patients and families.”

Lynsey will be one of our panel of experts on our digital Dementia Fayre on Thursday 20 May between 2pm and 3.30pm which is an opportunity for anyone to ask a question about dementia care and support.