A nurse from the South West Yorkshire Mental Health Trust has won a prestigious Nursing Standard ‘Nurse 2007’ award. Continence nurse Jane Spencer, based at Fieldhead hospital, won the mental health category of the national awards for her pioneering work with people with dementia.
The Nursing Standard awards acknowledge and celebrate the extraordinary work of the nation’s ‘ordinary’ nurses, midwives and health visitors. Jane received her award yesterday, at a ceremony in central London attended by secretary of state for health Patricia Hewitt.
Jane is one of the only mental health continence nurses in England and her work has benefited many Wakefield people with dementia and their carers. Half of the people seen by Jane have regained continence through diet and lifestyle changes alone.
Jane says, "Often people with dementia are described as incontinent when in fact it’s their mental health problem that affects their ability to remain continent. It can be basic things, for example they forget where the toilet is or need to be given reminders. I’ve found that 50% of people that we assess go away with an improved quality of life as a result of interventions and education."
Educating people about diet and lifestyle is a key part of treating incontinence in older people with mental health problems. Jane says, "I work with carers and give them advice as incontinence is often one thing that carers find really hard to manage. If I can help people with mental health problems and their carers manage incontinence it means they are less likely to end up in care, they are treated with more dignity and they can stay independent for longer."
Speaking about Jane’s award success the Nursing Standard judges said, "Imaginative problem-solving, improving patient’s lives, educating carers and other professionals and she has made cost savings. An outright winner."