Community ADHD Nurse
NHS Ayrshire & Arran
Carol’s role has changed and developed many times over since she first started in 2000, specialising over the first ten years to become the first ADHD specialist nurse in her service.
“I just can’t imagine not being a nurse, it was all I ever wanted to do when I left school, it is what I do and it is who I am,” Carol says.
“My passion for working in the area of ADHD and neurodevelopmental disorders has continued to grow. All I want to do is help children and young people, and their families, have a better experience when things are difficult, to help find the right answers, to aid them in better understanding and to better identify their needs, which in turn will hopefully have a lasting impact on their future.”
Carol recognises that she quite often meets families for the first time who have had a long wait for assessment or the next stage of their journey.
“People come to us at one of the most vulnerable times of their lives. I need to be able to be compassionate, give them an ear, be honest, be clear in what the aim is – that it is about improving things, but it might not happen straight away.”
“For me it is about getting it as right as we can as soon as we can. I hope to provide a source of reassurance and support, to make clear that I am listening to the child and the family’s story.
The ability to have honest and difficult conversations with people is something Carol places high on the list of skills she has managed to hone.
“It is about knowing it is ok not to know everything and being honest and upfront with families that we might not find an easy answer or there might not be a diagnosis, but it doesn’t mean we can’t explore things that might be useful along the way.”
“In my skillset, one of the things that is most useful is curiosity; I know never to assume. Families are worried, scared, concerned, often in crisis and they are being asked lots of personal information. I am honest about why I am asking that – being curious and upfront but gentle, and compassionate with phrasing.”
“It is about keeping an open mind, always. If you have one met young person with ADHD or Autism, you have met one person. Don’t stereotype, don’t make assumptions – I need to get to know them and understand who they are, what their presentation is, what are the elements of that diagnostic criteria that they display.”
“I use clinical pieces of information that I gather to give me a basis but then what I have to do is work with them as an individual and be mindful of their own uniqueness.”
Being in the role for two decades has meant Carol is always learning and she sees the Queen’s Nurse programme as allowing her to learn more about herself than ever before.
“If I want to be the best I can be, I need to do the best by myself. And that’s what I’ve taken from the QN programme.”
“I love the learning I get from my everyday work and can use this to develop my practice and knowledge to improve families’ journeys and experiences of the service”