In Cedar Unit at Eaglewood, PJ Care’s specialist neurological centre in Bretton, staff look after those with late-stage dementia. These residents require a high level of care and often present very challenging behaviour, but Manjumol Siju, Clinical Manager of Cedar Unit, wouldn’t swap her job for anything. The Moment talked to Manju about the challenges, and why this is exactly where she wants to be
How did you come to be running the unit at PJ Care?
I’ve been a nurse since 2001 when I qualified in India. I worked there as a clinical educator for a year, and then came over to the UK. When we come from other countries we have to do an adaptation programme to become a nurse in the UK, and after that I worked at Peterborough City Hospital until December 2018 when I joined PJ Care. There was a night manager vacancy here, which involved going around every unit to deal with anything that happened during the night, including acute episodes, and to send patients to hospital if there was a need. I had an acute clinical experience background, so it was ideal for me. Then in May 2019 my manager asked me if I wanted to come onto days and start as a unit manager. That role involves some operational management – staffing, care planning with social workers and so on – but on the clinical side I also do what any nurse would do. Many of these residents have physical disabilities and are completely unable to look after themselves, so we make care plans for them to deal with the physical and their emotional side.
What was it that made you want to work here?
I came here because it was all about caring for people. We have a very high staffing ratio, so the residents are looked after like members of a family. It is a real home. That gives a lot of job satisfaction. Most of my residents don’t have mental capacity, but for me going and speaking with them is my stress relief. Often, they have forgotten everything, but are so nice to speak to – completely innocent. They can have challenging behaviour, yes, but they don’t know what they are doing, so it’s never personal. I actually love to come here.
How do you cope with challenging behaviour?
When someone comes in we will assess them with a range of specialists, and create a plan for them. That can take over a month, but in that time we will come to know their personality and their unique behaviour, so we will have provision to manage it. Often we have to put someone with them 24 hours a day, but ultimately my team members can deal with the challenges because they understand why residents get agitated in the first place. It’s all about anticipating their needs.
I believe your sister also works here as a nurse?
Yes, my sister came recently because I was telling her about it! She’s gone to the Complex Care section where they have acute brain injuries and physical disability, but may still have some mental capacity. But there is a very ‘family’ atmosphere here. Bretton Centre is close, so a few residents will be taken there, have a coffee, maybe buy a newspaper or have some fish and chips. Some residents go to disability sports such as archery or sailing during the summer, or to the beach, and sometimes their families will come as well. Unlike residents in other units, they can’t make these decisions for themselves so we have to anticipate, and make sure they are all taken out on a regular basis. Some will not remember anything about these trips afterwards but we still do it. It’s about enjoying life. We also have an activity suite upstairs here, so there’s lots for them to do, including music, and activities provided by various visiting groups including Vivacity Sports Club. There’s also a therapy dog around at weekends, and many love that.
What are your plans for the future?
My plan is to stay here – PJ Care provide lots of courses, so I may develop my leadership skills more – but I am very happy doing what I’m doing! I really enjoy it because I can see I’m really helping people to live their lives, and enjoy their lives. I’m very proud to work here, and my residents are so lovely.
PJ CARE www.pjcare.co.uk
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