Lyndsey Forsyth works within NHS Fife as an Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) Nurse Specialist. Lyndsey’s unwavering passion and enthusiasm to ensure children and young people with ADHD are understood and listened to, drives her to continually keep expert ADHD Nursing high on the agenda.
I started working as a care assistant in a nursing home when I was 16 and the idea of going on to become a nurse came from there. I always knew I wanted to work with children and after a year at college studying special care and education I went to Dundee University to study my diploma in paediatric nursing . I worked in the children’s ward in the Victoria Hospital in Kirkcaldy for five years. I was approached by a consultant colleague about considering working as an ADHD nurse and I took the opportunity, becoming the first ADHD nurse specialist in NHS Fife (and one of the first in Scotland) in 2005. In 2007 I gained my nurse prescribing qualification through Queen Margaret University.
In 2010, I was involved in a review of ADHD services in Fife and the further development of the ADHD Pathway in Fife. This was an opportunity to ensure nurses became an integral part of the ADHD team when services moved into the community in 2011. Here I am, almost 14 years from when I started as an ADHD Nurse specialist and I still have the same enthusiasm and passion. Seeing children going through their journey, supporting them through difficult and challenging times, and seeing them thrive is so rewarding.
We have thought carefully about how best to provide a range of clinics that meet the needs of the children and their families – an example of this is holding the adolescent clinic in the evenings so that teenagers aren’t missing time at school. This clinic is to help prepare young people for the transition to adult services. I run nurse led general review and medication clinics also.
I facilitate a parents and carers support programme Parents INC, aiming to make the journey for families a bit smoother. I often meet our patients around the age of six and they can stay within our service until they reach 18, so I will support the families and children for around 12 years.
I provide education sessions with members of the wider team. An increase in ADHD nurses has also meant I now carry out induction, training and line management duties.
A key part of my role is to help change people’s attitudes and perceptions of ADHD. A mum once said to me “when you find the thing they love, they will just fly”. I try to get the message across that children and young people will flourish with the right care and guidance.
I am excited to be able to develop a piece of work that I really believe in and enjoy as part of my Queen’s Nurse award. It’s about inclusion and how we involve children and young people in the service by gathering their ideas, and experience to develop practice for other children and young people that will follow them.
This ADHD Ambassador programme has involved the children and young people taking part in interviews for a new member of nursing staff and being keynote speakers at a conference for parents and also for teachers. Four young people came onto the stage at the conference, we celebrated their many successes and they answered questions, opening their hearts about their experiences, they were so inspiring – there wasn’t a dry eye in the room.
From that, the feedback from parents was ‘I wish my child could meet these young people” and that progressed to us holding a conference for the kids – Our ADHD Ambassadors have run a conference for 30 other young people who also have ADHD.
We now hope to develop resources for children and young people with ADHD and their teachers and parents from the wealth of knowledge we gathered. We want to ensure their voices are heard. This is an important outcome, as ADHD is such a misunderstood condition.
I don’t think I realised what insight the young people had into their ADHD until I started doing this ambassador work. They’re the people that live with it, they’re the experts at explaining what it is like. For our ambassadors, it has really given them a sense of pride in their ADHD, and a knowledge they are really helping other kids. It has been a joy to have watched them flourish and their confidence soar through that.
My job is unusual in that I get to build relationships with children and their families over a long period of time. That’s the bit I love – getting to know them, enabling them to trust you and your clinical skills, seeing them come to you for support. I feel privileged to be able to help them and try turning the negative round to a positive. These long-term relationships mean everything to the families and to me.
Listening and engaging with young people and families has taught me a huge amount about ADHD and how it impacts them, not only at home but in the wider community. Seeing the success our young people can achieve with the right support, motivates me to continue expanding our service and changing people’s attitudes. I had a young boy attend our clinic and he was given a diagnosis of ADHD, his self-esteem was poor and he didn’t have much self-belief. Following diagnosis, school implemented ADHD friendly strategies, his parents attended Parents INC and he was given medication. When he later came into our clinic, he was grinning from ear to ear and clutching a certificate he received from school, this is when I am reminded why I do what I do.
It is a real joy to see how well young people can do with the right support and guidance. I am often told by the team that I go above and beyond to ensure things are right for a patient, however I see it as “just doing my job”. I am grateful for the support I receive, and the opportunities given.
It is privilege to be that person on the other end of the phone or in a clinic that can support families when things are difficult and also celebrate their successes.