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'I'm almost as passionate about cooking as I am about dementia care!'

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We talk to Amy Pepper, Admiral Nurse clinical lead, London Borough of Sutton, who has been a nurse for six years.

Amy Pepper

Why did you decide to become a nurse?

When I was 14 I was a cleaner in a nursing home. I loved spending time with the residents, most of whom had dementia. I saw some great care but also bad practice - this was the catalyst for me deciding to become a nurse.

Where did you train?

University of Brighton.

What was your first job in nursing?

As a staff nurse on an acute dementia assessment unit. It was a challenging first job but also very rewarding.

What is the trait you least like in yourself and why?

I tend to overanalyse things and can be very hard on myself if things are not perfect.

From whom have you learnt the most in your career?

My old colleague Lucy Frost, who is now a dementia specialist nurse in an acute hospital. She is passionate about advocating for the families with whom she works, and changing practice - no matter how challenging that might be. Her work and passion are an inspiration to me.

What advice would you give someone starting out?

Be patient with yourself; don’t expect to know everything. One of the joys of nursing is that you are constantly learning and growing.

What keeps you awake at night?

My never-ending to-do list!

What’s the most satisfying part of your job?

Being able to support a family carer to better understand the symptoms and behaviours of their loved one with dementia. To help them be able to communicate and connect again is a wonderful feeling.

“I’ve recently secured funding for three more Admiral Nurses”

What’s your proudest achievement?

I’ve recently secured funding for three more Admiral Nurses to work alongside me after running and evaluating the service alone for over a year. I’m very proud of that.

What is likely to change nursing in the next decade?

I hope that a growing recognition of the value of advanced nursing practice will give nurses more opportunities to shape services.

What would you have done if you hadn’t become a nurse?

I’d have been a chef. I’m almost as passionate about cooking as I am about dementia care.

What job would you like to be doing in five years?

I would hope that I will still be working in Admiral Nursing, it has been wonderful to work alongside Dementia UK and so many skilled and passionate nurses.

What do you think makes a good nurse?

Passion, skill, empathy, kindness and a strength of conviction.

If you could change one thing in healthcare, what would it be?

I’d like to see more integration between health and social care. My service is based with a local authority so I have seen first hand how integration can work if it is done right.

What would your ideal weekend involve?

A weekend with my family, a long walk in the countryside and a big family dinner.

If you could spend an hour with someone, who would it be?

Tom Kitwood, whose work on person-centered dementia care has inspired so many working in this field.

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