Careers that make a difference!

19 March 2024 News

With 8 Reconnect communities across the group, Orchard Care Homes offers inclusive, person-centred care to people living with dementia. Nicky Preston, Dementia Support Worker at Middleton Park Lodge Nursing Home, spoke to us about his rewarding career in care, and why he loves working in a Reconnect community.

Nicky Preston, Dementia Support Worker at Middleton Park Lodge Nursing Home in Leeds

“I accepted the role of Dementia Support Worker at Middleton Park Lodge Nursing Home in September 2023. Working in a Reconnect community, I’ve seen some incredible transformations from people who have previously been in distressful situations, and weren’t receiving the meaningful engagement and care they deserve.”

As a Dementia Support Worker in our Leeds nursing home, Nicky plays a crucial role in one of our innovative Reconnect communities, which offers specialist care to people living with dementia. “The best part of my role as Dementia Support Worker is seeing the people I support smile. They know I’m a familiar face they can trust and that I genuinely care for them. I love being part of their support structure, and knowing they see me as someone they can rely on.”

Now 6 months into his new role, Nicky tells us how no two days are the same working in a Reconnect community. “I will use the typical phrase ‘every day is different’, but seriously – this is definitely true working in a nursing home! My day starts the second I walk into Middleton Park Lodge, where I’m greeted with huge smiles and waves from the people we support. I have a catch up with the residents and check to see if they need a cup of tea, snacks or anything else they may like, and help the rest of the team set up for the day.

I approach every aspect of the day in a positive, calm mindset, and look for ways I can offer meaningful engagement to our residents. I try to accommodate everyone’s needs and constantly assess my environment to gauge peoples’ emotions; so if a resident is feeling distressed, upset or frustrated, I would ask them if they’d like to help me with a task, or do an activity somewhere else in a more suited environment. I try to base all activities on something they actually like, like painting or crossword puzzles, so I know they’ll enjoy their 1:1 time.”

As well as keeping residents engaged and happy, Nicky’s role includes supporting their physical wellbeing. “I support in personal care and ensuring residents are comfortable in every part of the care process. I try to maintain as much of their independence as possible whilst supporting them with everyday tasks, and focus on their abilities and strengths instead of their limitations. I liaise with my colleagues, nurses, professionals from the community and family members on a daily basis to ensure residents living in our Reconnect community are supported and cared for in the best way possible.

There are some challenging aspects to being a Dementia Support Worker, such as the fast-changing emotions our residents can feel – but it’s important to remember they’re often just frustrated with themselves, and struggling to communicate their feelings. Being patient and supportive during these times of distress is vital, and can make a huge difference to the person’s day.”

Nicky Preston, Dementia Support Worker at Middleton Park Lodge Nursing Home in Leeds

Nicky’s advice to anyone wanting to join one of Orchard Care Homes’ Reconnect teams is to do it for the right reasons. “To be a Dementia Support Worker, I believe you have to be someone who genuinely cares for others and wants to make a person’s day the best it can be. People living with dementia are often misjudged because of preconceived ideas, but after working in a dementia-friendly environment, I can safely say those negative assumptions are entirely incorrect. Our residents are truly incredible people, and I’m so glad I made the decision to join the Reconnect team at Middleton Park Lodge Nursing Home.

By becoming a Dementia Support Worker, you can be the person who makes a real change to someone’s life – what could be more rewarding than that?”

We love Nicky’s positive mindset and passion to provide residents with positive and meaningful engagement on a daily basis. Being a Dementia Support Worker is a truly fulfilling role, and we’ve loved seeing Nicky develop his career in care in our Reconnect community.

Have you considered specialising in dementia care? If you have an NVQ Level 3 (or Level 2 and working on a Level 3), help Orchard Care Homes fulfil our Dementia Promise and make the lives of people living with dementia the very best they can be. Check out our latest roles below!

Dementia Support Worker roles