As a dementia nurse specialist at The Royal Bournemouth Hospital, Kelly Lockyer spends her time supporting therapeutic interventions for dementia patients – including aromatherapy and art activities – as well as ensuring the hospital meets dementia screening targets.

It’s her dream job - and a role she believes she wouldn’t have been able to achieve without her time at Bournemouth University.

Kelly, who is from Poole, wanted to study locally and started a BSc in Mental Health Nursing at BU as a mature student in 2010.  

“It was a bit nerve-wracking coming in as a mature student, but there was a really diverse range of people on my course and we got on really well,” she said.

“I made some friends for life and everyone was really supportive. We were able to talk to each other about placements and share experiences, as well as do lots of fun activities and have days out together.”

Kelly added: “It was a challenging course, but I had an amazing tutor who was really supportive and lots of great opportunities through the placements.”

Kelly undertook a variety of placements throughout her course, experiencing different aspects of nursing and care.

She believes these placements helped build her skills, knowledge and a network of contacts – meaning she had no problem finding a job upon graduating.

“The opportunities with placements were probably the best part of my experience at Bournemouth University,” said Kelly.

“I did placements in lots of different areas, which helped me see what I was interested in and what I wanted to pursue.

“I worked really hard and made people aware that I wanted to work in that sector so people told me when opportunities arose and knew me when I then went for job interviews.”

She added that the placements and hands-on experience supplemented what she learnt on her course.

“I think some of the mental health Acts and legislation were easier to learn in university, reading about it and writing about it, whereas in placement you learn more about general illnesses and putting skills into practice.”

Kelly still has lots of links with BU. She is currently at the university one day a week, undertaking additional professional development courses, while BU students have supported the hospital’s drive to create knitted twiddlemitts for patients with dementia to help reduce frustration and agitation.

Kelly also now supervises students on placements at the hospital.

“Having those links with Bournemouth University for things like the twiddlemitts has been really useful,” she said.

“I have a lot of general nursing placement students who come and spend the day with me, so it’s really nice for them to see what a mental health nurse does as well.

“I think it opens up opportunities for them as well to understand the other types of nursing – which has been really beneficial for them, as well as for me as I’m learning from them too.”

Kelly is one of many BU graduates employed by The Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

Nicola Bowers, Matron, Older Persons Medicine, said: “BU nursing graduates are a vital part of the Trust and we welcome the opportunity to integrate them into our teams, sharing their learning and approach to the latest evidence-based care.

“Nursing graduates bring new ways of looking at what we do in practice and provide stimulating challenge to current ways of working which is vital in reviewing and improving the care and experience of our patients.”

Kelly added: “I like having the opportunity to make changes and come up with new ideas and ways to improve services – like working on a sensory garden for dementia patients.

“I’m so proud of being a nurse, and without going to Bournemouth University, I wouldn’t be where I am.

“This is my dream job and I wouldn’t have been able to achieve this without BU.”