Dementia Friends and District Vet Nursing

On Sunday I was lucky enough to meet up with my fellow RVN’s Carla Finzel and Zoe Blake to have some food, share some wine and talk about our favourite topic; Veterinary Nursing!

As is always the case, we chew the fat about the profession and industry on a whole and get to chat about our own work. The highs and the lows, the progression and the frustration. A hot topic from the week included the article printed in the Vet Record written by the chief executive of CVS, calling the work of Vet Nurses ‘mundane’! #vetnursemorethanmundane

We each run our own veterinary nursing service in our community and support local vet practices in our areas (east and west Sussex), visiting pets and their owners at home, by veterinary referral.

Carla Finzel is the pioneering RVN commanding the District Veterinary Nursing (DVN) campaign, supported by the development group, she is making big steps towards achieving a ground-breaking industry first. With the moto ‘One Health, One Welfare’ Carla is an inspiring mentor and an incredible support for myself and Zoe.

Zoe Blake is achieving great success with her ‘Respect the Lead Campaign’ including a live interview on a local BBC radio station! Educating dog owners to be more aware and thoughtful towards dogs that are kept on the lead. She also runs her business, The Friendly Pet Nurse. https://respectthelead.com/

So, you can imagine when we are together there is always lots to catch up on and for this particular occasion Carla had kindly offered to take us through our paces to initiate us both as Dementia Friends.

Dementia Friends, an initiative by The Alzheimers Society, aims to help people to better understand what dementia is, who it can affect and how. It then hopes to turn our understanding into action, by supporting us to reach out to those that may be vulnerable in our community. And reminding us to be a little more patient and understanding if we spot the signs of Dementia.

Dementia Friends wants to enrol others in to the scheme through their local information sessions, run by Dementia Friends Champions like Carla or even getting your workplace involved by hosting a session. https://www.dementiafriends.org.uk/

The training was insightful, thought-provoking and so relevant because a lot of our clients are elderly, possibly living alone and are vulnerable. Although it is worth remembering that Dementia affects predominantly the over 65’s, young people can get Dementia too.

Carla used a wonderful analogy, relating to a bookcase. She described how the top shelves hold books that represent our most recent memories and life experiences and in descending order, the lower shelves hold memories from our younger and childhood years. If we were to rock the bookcase from side to side, the uppermost books are most likely to fall out first and the lower shelves are likely to remain relatively intact. This is a great metaphor for the effects of Dementia, which often leaves those living with the disease not only with short-term memory issues (as the books from the top shelves are lost) but feelings of disorientation and confusion (as all the books become jumbled and fall out of order). Dementia affects everyone in a different way, but can be distressing for all.

Sadly, for us this initiation happened on the same week that Carla had shared a social media post about a dog called Mojo.

Mojo tragically died. His elderly owner was living with Dementia and everyday forgot that Mojo was there. Forgetting to feed him and give him water. A poignant reminder of the cost of Dementia when it goes unnoticed. Carla reminds us of the importance of the visions and aims of the District Veterinary Nursing campaign, that we have a unique opportunity to reach out to pet owners, without judgment, to make veterinary services accessible to all. Reinforcing the human-animal bond, by working together with other welfare and health service providers, to ensure this doesn’t keep happening.

https://www.oncoreepd.co.uk/district-veterinary-nursing-development-group-vision-and-aims/