Lindsay Wilson is a Huntington’s Disease (HD) Specialist with Scottish Huntington’s Association who regularly works with the team at Balhousie Rumbling Bridge in the Perthshire home’s specialist HD unit. To mark Huntington’s Awareness Month, Lindsay shares her career path, experiences of working with people living with HD, why she’s passionate about raising awareness of the disease and her advice for those interested in working in this field of specialist care.
Huntington’s Disease is a rare, hereditary, degenerative disorder of the brain with symptoms including movement, behavioural and cognitive disturbances. Lindsay first learned about the disease while on a 12-week placement in a specialist HD unit in her second year studying nursing at the University of Dundee.
“I really enjoyed working with the patients and families and was offered a job as a carer at the end of my placement,” says Lindsay. “This allowed me to continue to develop my skills and knowledge about HD during my studies.”
Once Lindsay qualified in 2012, she became a Staff Nurse in the HD unit, then Senior Staff Nurse two years later. Her next step was to join the Scottish Huntington’s Association as an HD Specialist and she’s been with the charity ever since. “In this role I can take a more holistic approach to the care and support of people with HD and their families while always building my skills and experience,” Lindsay explains.
As part of her work with Scottish Huntington’s Association (SHA), Lindsay works with clients at Balhousie Rumbling Bridge in the home’s HD specialist care unit, which she thoroughly enjoys. “I have a great balance as a SHA HD Specialist working in the community and at Rumbling Bridge. With a younger resident group than some other homes, the staff team work well in creating a person-centred environment and ensuring activities reflect the residents’ interests and hobbies.”
Lindsay is proud of her work with families at Rumbling Bridge and in the wider community living with HD every day. “The families I work with inspire me to make sure they have the support that’s right for them when they need it. I see families showing great resilience despite the many challenges they face. Being able to provide support, and being there for all families living with HD, is so important to me.”
Lindsay is passionate about raising awareness of the disease. “When I was studying, my student placement really opened my eyes to the symptoms of HD and how it affects individuals and their families. I wanted to find out more about it and the specialist care that is needed, especially as it is a rare disease that even today is not well known or understood by the wider public and, in some cases, by health and social care professionals.”
As someone who was inspired by her experiences of HD nursing during her university years, Lindsay has sage yet simple advice for anyone interested in becoming an HD Specialist. “Find out as much as you can about Huntington’s Disease before you make your mind,” shares Lindsay. “Working with HD families is incredibly rewarding, but you have to be ready to step out of your comfort zone and go that extra mile for people. If you’re looking for advice, you can get in touch with me or anyone at SHA and we’ll be happy to help you.”
Scottish Huntington’s Association provides lifeline support for families across Scotland through its network of HD Specialists, youth advisors and financial wellbeing officers. Committed to driving up the standard of care for people impacted by Huntington’s, the charity led the development of the world’s first National Care Framework for Huntington’s Disease, which has been followed by a rollout of local versions across Scotland.
“Through our partnership with Rumbling Bridge, Lindsay brings extensive insight into how Huntington’s impacts individuals and the people who love them,” said Alistair Haw, CEO of Scottish Huntington’s Association.
“This role extends beyond providing 1-2-1 support to residents; having a dedicated HD Specialist such as Lindsay helps clients and their families to feel connected to the Huntington’s community. It also gives them the confidence that staff in the unit have access to SHA’s expertise in the delivery of the high quality, personalised care that is needed.”
Lynne McMurtrie, Home Manager at Balhousie Rumbling Bridge, adds: “The knowledge and experience Lindsay brings to our dedicated Huntington’s Disease specialist care unit at Balhousie Rumbling Bridge is second to none. HD is a very complex and challenging disease and the support offered by Lindsay and the wider team at Scottish Huntington’s Association has a real, positive impact on our HD families.”
For more information about Huntington’s Disease visit https://hdscotland.org/
To find out more about joining our team at Balhousie Rumbling Bridge and for all roles visit www.balhousiecare.co.uk/careers