About me – Shannen

Hello everyone & welcome to my blog, my name is Shannen. I’m a nurse working within the NHS in Leeds, West Yorkshire, UK. I was given the opportunity to attend the Alzheimer’s society annual conference this week, since then I have decided to make a pledge. My pledge is to raise awareness and take action against dementia by creating this blog today. From now on I’m hoping to educate myself more and others, volunteer when possible and encourage others to do the same.

Throughout my blog I’m hoping to raise awareness, educate others, take action, signpost other services where possible and support others. I’m happy to cover areas on topics on request where I see fit, I will also make recommendations of products or reading material if relevant.

I really do hope others do read my blog and follow me on my journey to become an admiral nurse (dementia nurse specialist) which I would be hoping to achieve within the next 5 years.



Progress update

Hi all,

hope you’re all well. Just to give an update to those previous following my blog …

  • I am now a research nurse in Wakefield covering dementia & ageing, neurosciences and COVID research
  • I am using Twitter to network currently @SBresearchnurse … feel free to follow me there
  • I am in the last 6 months of my masters I’m studying Advanced dementia studies at university of bradford
  • I am still hoping to become a dementia nurse specialist in the next couple of years all being well

Thank you for your continued support

Please visit the following websites for ongoing support or information

Thanks Shannen

A local morning with the NHS followed by a trundle to London…

Brilliant blog about everything research! 🙂

Which me am I today?

Yesterday I had a 2 part day……the first was with my local NHS Trust promoting research and then I had to trundle straight after down to London, as I’m with Dentists on Thursday…… 🙄……

So my friend Cathryn Hart from the research team picked me up at 8am and helped me load my book filled big suitcase into a her car and we trundle towards the Trust Headquarters…..there’s been some lovely skies in a morning and this one was no exception…..

We arrived at the venue and the team were already setting up..Cathryn’s research team stars are one of the most organised teams I know……..but then they have a wonderful manager in Cathryn…..every team is only as good as the manager and the culture that exists…

People began to arrive…..all sort of specialties were represented, psychologists, Occupational Therapists, junior docs…..and many more….

I sat on a table with people who were…

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Is it going to be a good or bad day…..revisited….

Which me am I today?

A quiet week this week so thought I’d look through some old blogs to share again….This one is from 3 years ago….after a bad few days last week, this reminded me that not much has changed as this still happens yet so much has changed…..and showering is now exhausting……

Thought I’d share my early morning today where I try to work out whether my brain is cooperating ……. I wrote this as soon as I got out of the shower on Sunday to remember as much as I could…

On Sunday I had a very frazzled morning. I’d had 2 very busy days, On Friday I’d had a very long tiring day in London and on Saturday I’d had a very busy, lovely christmassy day with Sarah – so Sunday was never going to be a breeze…….which is why I knew it would be good to document here…….
On days…

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“ People in the advanced stages don’t know they have dementia”…..

Which me am I today?

“People in the advanced stages don’t know they have dementia” – A blanket statement made last week by Professor Graham Stokes at the UK Dementia Congress……..

I remember taking a large intake of breathe as I was shocked at this random statement…..

Does it matter that people aren’t aware? Probably not in the grand scheme of things, but is it respectful to assume that? Me thinks not.

If people hadn’t been told, were in denial, didn’t understand before the advanced stages, I wouldn’t be surprised if it were the same for them in the late stages.

But isn’t it assuming that people in the late stages have lost all intellect? If so, how do we know that? What proof is there? How on earth could you prove such a concept?

When I saw Prof Stokes, I felt that I’d disagreed with his comments previously ….I seem to intuitively know if…

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A Contentious Blog on my end stage dementia – revisited

Which me am I today?

I’m almost sure this would have been a contentious blog the first time round but the subject seems to have been doing the rounds on Twitter again so I thought  I’d reblog. It all started when one organisation was questioned why they didn’t have anyone with dementia talking about end of life views at their conference. They had a Carer viewpoint but not someone living with dementia. In my opinion you can’t have a conference about OUR end of life without one of us speaking from our view point. Anyway, there response was that they didn’t think we talked about end of life. We pointed out quite vociferously that there were many of us who spoke  regularly about end of life, me being one.

They took the criticism on the chin and now the lovely Dory from Wales is speaking – better late than never I suppose, but why are…

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I met a young woman…….Poem

Which me am I today?

I met a young woman
Just the other day
She sat down beside me
And we chatted away..

She seemed to know a lot about me
Asked if I’d like a nice cuppa tea
She settled down and told me about her life
So I sat and listened contentedly

It was as though she knew me
In a vague familiar way
She smiled and we compared
The years that had gone by

Of children growing up
We had so much in common
Our love of the outdoors
Our love of sport more than anyone

But as we grew older
That’s where our lives diverged and similarities end
She so private, yet with so much drive
Me so carefree, yet today I’m sat here tired of life

We finished our tea
Said our goodbyes
Wished each other luck
And then we parted

And I sat alone
Gathering my thoughts
Who was…

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World Suicide Prevention day

Special Feature

Today is World Suicide Prevention day (Sept 10th). The World Health Organisation estimates that over 800,000 people take their own life each year – that’s one person every forty seconds. It’s thought that up to twenty five times as many make a suicide attempt.

World Suicide Prevention Day

  • Aims to raise awareness and educate others on the effects mental illness can have on people worldwide.
  • 1 in 4 people experience mental health problems in any one year. Physical wellbeing is deemed easier to speak about than emotion health.

NHS Employers has developed a range of tools and resources to help you have conversations around mental health in the workplace and promote positive mental wellbeing. See link for more details: http://www.nhsemployers.org/news/2018/09/world-suicide-prevention-day-2018

What you can do

Samaritans encourage individuals to start a conversation today if you think a friend, colleague or family member may be struggling.

When a person reaches a point where they are focused on taking their life, they’ve often lost sight of trying to find a way through their problems. This period usually only lasts a short while and often it doesn’t take a huge amount to bring someone back from that decision – something as simple as saying, ‘it’s ok to talk’ can be enough to move someone out of suicidal crisis.

How can people reach out?

Samaritans highlights it can be daunting to approach someone who is struggling to cope; you may not know what to say, how to start a difficult conversation or worry that you’ll make things worse. However, you don’t need to be an expert. Often, just asking if someone’s OK and letting them know you’re listening can give people the confidence to open up about how they’re feeling.

For more mental health support please see previous blog, 3 days prior to this

10 Things to Know – Facebook page

10 Things to Know about looking after your own mental health as a healthcare professional

By Tamsyn Crane @neonatal_ed

1. What we do for a living is tough. Mentally, physically, emotionally. Take a moment to appreciate what you do every day; what you have achieved; the things that you have seen and done; the people you have helped and those you have saved. You are amazing.

2. It is OK if you are struggling. We all have times where we feel that we cannot do this anymore. 1 in 3 people will suffer from mental health problems in their lifetime, and this is higher in healthcare professionals. It is not a weakness to be unwell, to have an illness.

3. Just because we are healthcare professionals, does not mean that we cannot have mental health problems. It doesn’t change who you are as a person, and it doesn’t make you incapable of doing your job, once you are better. It is no different from having the flu.

4. If you are suffering from a mental illness, you may still be able to work. You might need to take some time off. You might need to take medication, you might need psychotherapy. This is all OK. Do what is right for you, do what you can achieve and do not feel ashamed if all you can do is get out of bed. That is still an achievement.

5. Self-care is vital. Whether you are mentally fit and healthy, or if you are not. Find out what you love to do, what makes you happy, what makes you calm. And make it a priority. Drink, eat, exercise, dance, sing, read a book, have a bath. You cannot help others if you are empty. Put your oxygen mask on first.

6. Ask for help. I cannot stress this enough. Ask for help. Without my friends, my family and some phenomenal colleagues, I would never have got through my mental health crisis. And I definitely wouldn’t have made it back to my job. Whoever you think might be able to support you, ask them.

7. If you are in crisis, if you don’t know who or where to turn, if you feel helpless and hopeless. Phone the Samaritans. They are incredible, they are there 24/7 and helping people in crisis is what they do. And they do it so well.

8. If you have had time off of work with a mental health problem, coming back to work is hard. Coming back to a clinical environment is extremely hard. Make 100% sure that you are ready. Take it one step at a time. Do not expect too much of yourself, you will not be able to come back at the same level that you were previously. Be kind to yourself.

9. Don’t be afraid to tell your colleagues that you have had mental ill health. They will not think less of you. People in the NHS are kind, supportive and understanding. I have shared my experience because I want them to know it’s OK. That if they were in a similar situation, not to be ashamed. But if you want to keep it to yourself, that’s OK too.

10. Mental illness is a bit like a broken bone. It starts to feel OK when you are resting it, but once you start to use it more; it starts to hurt again. When everything is going smoothly, you may be mentally fine, but if you are challenged, you may not have the ability to cope. Don’t be afraid to take a step back and rest your mind again. It will help you to heal in the long run.

For help and support follow on their Facebook page

Last but not least these a video if interested in watching: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p06k5gdy


Get up, Get dressed, Keep moving campaign


What you need to know?

Dr Amit Arora (consultant geriatrician at the University Hospital of North Midlands) and his team  developed the campaign “Sit up, Get Dressed, Keep Moving” which is being adopted in many NHS hospitals and abroad. Arora conceived the idea and started indigenous work on the campaign ‘Sit up, Get Dressed, Keep Moving’ in April 2016 with a wider roll out in October 2016.


Richard Asher stated the effects of inappropriate bed rest in the BMJ (1947), ‘The dangers of bed rest’. He said, “Teach us to live that we may dread, unnecessary time in bed; Get people up and we may save, Our patients from an early grave.

Campaign development

The campaign is only deemed to be successful if staff motivation, contribution and goodwill are all at a reasonable standard. It became successful in other hospitals as the staff knew in their heart that this was the right thing to do, something they should be doing but somehow it was not always done.

Since The British Geriatrics Society and NHS England have supported the campaign requests were within a month for materials from clinical staff from over 20 hospitals, including from Australia, New Zealand and Canada – and more and more have joined since. The campaign also got unprecedented support from ECIST (Emergency Care Intensive Support Team) #endpjparalysis campaign and Jane Cummings (Chief Nurse NHS England) and the efforts to prevent deconditioning became popular

It was deemed as vital to publish the campaign and take it forward as patients in hospital beds do not always receive the encouragement to ‘Sit up, Get Dressed, Keep moving’ as staff are ‘too busy’. Encouraging exercise and routine activity of daily living was highlighted to be essential throughout the campaign in order for it to be effective, it has been reinforced that everyone in the team clinical or non clinical has a responsibility and play a key factor in recovery.

Working in elderly medicine most my patients tend to be over 75 years old it was found and continues to be older people that benefit most from this campaign as they are considered to be the core users of the NHS.

Further Research

  • Statistics have shown older people can spend up to 83% of their time sitting in bed and often a further 12% in a chair.
  • Long periods of sitting can lead to deconditioning starting from as early as with in first 24 hours when patients could lose up to 2-5% of their muscle mass.
  • It is often said that ten days of bed rest can lead to up to ten years equivalent of muscle ageing in people over the age of 80 years.
  • Muscle ageing results in poorer outcomes. Reconditioning can often take twice as long. Up to 65% of older people can experience decline in function during hospitalization. Many patients may not improve fully; for some ‘Sit up, Get Dressed, Keep Moving’ could be the difference between going home and going into a home!

(Information taken from BGS Word press blog)

At work

The Get up, get dress, keep moving campaign has only just come into the spotlight recently. Kindly on elderly medicine we have been provided with a small supply of clothes particularly for patients that may be disadvantaged to participate in the new campaign.

Within Leeds Teaching Hospitals all staff were invited to wear their nightwear to work to help promote the Sit up, Get dressed, Keep moving campaign. The day was about raising awareness and having conversations with people about the importance of the initiative which aims to end PJ paralysis.

Dr Eileen Burns, consultant for older people at LTHT and President of the British Geriatrics Society, said: “All patients, regardless of their age, can lose muscle strength if they’re sitting around for long periods of time. This is particularly true for older people.”

Alison Raycraft, Lead nurse for older people said: “Little things like this can have a huge impact on someone’s independence and confidence, but also their mental health and wellbeing too. Our patients who get themselves dressed and up and about tell us that they feel much better and many are able to go home sooner too, which is fantastic.”




September – World Alzheimer’s Month

aWhat is World Alzheimer’s Month?

World Alzheimer’s Month is the international campaign every September to raise awareness and challenge the stigma that surrounds dementia. September 2018 is the 7th World Alzheimer’s Month. World Alzheimer’s Day is on 21 September each year.

Statistics globally

2 out of  3 people globally believe there is little or no understanding of dementia in their countries. The impact of World Alzheimer’s Month is growing, but the stigmatisation and misinformation that surrounds dementia remains a global problem, that requires global action. Every 3 seconds someone in the world develops dementia.

For more information re: World Alzheimer’s Day via link: https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/get-involved/world-alzheimers-day

If you are based in a different country please see link to see associations available for you: https://www.alz.co.uk/associations

Please share the free campaign materials with others see link: https://www.worldalzmonth.org/get-involved/

For those who use social media use the words below to show your support this month;

  • #Every3seconds
  • #WorldAlzMonth
  • #WAM2018
  • Twitter –  @AlzDisInt

Please support the Alzheimer’s Society by sponsoring me this month – I am doing a memory walk see link for more details: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/mw301791




Mental health support

At work

A new service called ListeningEars is now available for part of my CSU (clinical services unit) for those who work in the Emergency part of medicine e.g. A&E and CDU staff. This is a staff engagement peer to peer listening service of 30 volunteer members of the A&E team. The team is available 24/7 to listen, emphasise, understand and signpost onward care services. After recently contacting the ListeningEars team they was keen to potentially rule this out to the whole CSU within the near future. One of the reasons the service is now in place is because a sister working in A&E sadly committed suicide, I had the pleasure of being one of her students over 3 years ago on my last placement in A&E. She will always be in my thoughts.

Outside work

As mental health is more encouraged to speak about as time goes on there is increasingly large amounts of support see links below for more information:

Local to leeds: