My job

‘As nurses, we are always learning and developing’

Barbara Lawson, care home manager of Kincaid House in Greenock, Scotland, explains her passion for the care of older peope diagnosed with dementia

Barbara Lawson, care home manager of Kincaid House in Greenock, Scotland, explains her passion for the care of older people diagnosed with dementia

Barbara Lawson


What is your job?

I am a passionate and dedicated care home manager at Kincaid House, in Greenock, Scotland. The home, which is run by Meallmore Ltd, provides care and support for 90 older people, many who have been diagnosed with dementia. I help the team give the best possible care and inspire them to find solutions to complex situations.

Why did you become a nurse? 

As a child,  in 1984, I watched a BBC report on the famine in Ethiopia and the world’s response to it. I knew immediately that I wanted to help people in some way.

Where did you train?

I started my training in 1995 at Crosshouse Hospital in Kilmarnock, which then joined the University of Paisley.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

Making a difference to people’s lives. I have worked in the home for more than six years, and I have seen the staff team develop, and share their knowledge and experiences, in supporting individuals and families with their dementia journeys.

You won the 2017 Sue Pembrey award for your work with people with dementia. What did the work involve?

I have been instrumental in writing and helping the team implement a strategy to improve quality and experiences for people living with dementia in the care home.

I have worked hard to promote the importance of dementia training in the home and empower staff to apply their learning when making decisions about care.

As a dementia champion, I have spent a lot of time supporting families with grief, and helping them to understand dementia and how this affects individuals. This work can be invaluable: I have seen families’ situations change completely after they have visited loved ones in the home.

What is your greatest challenge?

Focusing on the priority for each day in what is a constantly changing environment, in part due to changes in policies and legislation. This allows me to be a catalyst for quality improvement, which I thrive on.  

What has given you most satisfaction?

That ‘light bulb moment’ when someone sees dementia for what it is – an individual, personal experience – and realises our approach to it can make all the difference.

What or who inspires you, and why? 

I have met some amazing people through the dementia champion programme and they have encouraged me to ignite a passion about dementia care in others. I can see what makes a difference to the lives of people with dementia, and I have had the privilege to work with people with complex needs and see that what we do matters.

What advice would you give a newly-registered nurse?  

Always be open and honest, even in difficult situations, and always ask for help. As nurses, we are always learning and developing.

What is likely to affect nurses working with older people over the next 12 months? 

The limitations on service provision throughout the health service seem to affect older people the most. Options for care depend on resources, and people are coming in to care homes at a later stage. This means we must respond to increasing frailty and complexity in the people we care for, and we require the appropriate knowledge and skills.


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