Riding the digital wave in dementia care

Playing an instrumental role in providing data on the value of Admiral Nursing, Julia Botsford explains why digital advances present a challenge across the board in nursing.

Playing an instrumental role in providing data on the value of Admiral Nursing, Julia Botsford explains why digital advances present a challenge across the board in nursing

What is your job?

I am a research and evaluation Admiral Nurse at Dementia UK in London. As well as working on the Admiral Nurse Dementia Helpline, providing specialist advice and support to families living with dementia, I play an instrumental role in collecting data on the value and effectiveness of Admiral Nursing. My area of expertise also lies in dementia in black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities.

Why did you become a nurse?

My interest in nursing stems from when my grandmother was unwell and spent time in hospital. This experience showed me how nursing can have a direct and positive effect on people’s lives. I’ve also been quite academically minded so that blend between theory and practice is another great appeal.  

What might you have done otherwise?

If I hadn’t have become an Admiral Nurse then perhaps teaching would have been an alternative career.

Where did you train?

I initially trained as a general nurse at the Whittington Hospital in North London. I then decided to do a conversion course, training as a mental health nurse at St Luke’s Woodside Hospital.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

Working on the Admiral Nurse Dementia Helpline as well as in the Dementia UK research and evaluation team provides a fantastic amount of variety. I work with some truly inspiring Admiral Nurses – we all feel that we’re really making a difference.

Why did you choose to work in this field of nursing?

Having had family experience with dementia, I realised that it’s not just the person who’s been diagnosed who faces dementia but the whole family. Early in my career I realised that dementia care was the area where I wanted to be. As a general and mental health nurse, I get to use a wide range of skills, which I enjoy.

What work have you done with patients and families from different cultural backgrounds who live with dementia?

I have worked in a number of multicultural areas over the years. This has inspired me to raise awareness of how dementia affects minority ethnic groups through my recent book – Dementia, Culture and Ethnicity: Issues for all; my PhD; as well as through the development of a community of practice or Admiral Nurses. By promoting cultural competence among nurses, we can provide the best and most appropriate support for people from all backgrounds.

How does your nursing background help you work with people on the helpline?

People calling the helpline are facing times of crisis, and need advice and support which is appropriate for them as individuals. I use my mental health skills to listen and respond to them, and I am able to draw on my professional experience to provide the most suitable advice and support.

What is your greatest challenge?

All sectors are riding the digital wave at the minute and nursing is no exception. Grappling with ever-evolving technology - and spreadsheets - is something that I’m constantly improving on.

What has given you most satisfaction?

Being able to disseminate theory and knowledge on an under-reported area. When I started my doctorate in 2007, the interaction between dementia care and minority ethnic groups was barely reported. Now I am seeing more nurses coming forward with their stories and driving awareness in this area.

What nursing achievement makes you most proud?

I am proud of being part of the movement that has led to dementia care nursing becoming the exciting and dynamic specialism it now is. There are a lot of lessons to be learned after working for more than 25 years in mental health nursing. I’m sure many other nurses would feel the same so we are at something of a turning point.

What advice would you give a newly registered nurse?

It’s important to take support from your colleagues whenever you can.

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