A dementia nurse specialist from The Christie is celebrating being a finalist in an international award ceremony.

Lorraine Burgess, 58, from Heaton Mersey, is one of six finalists for the Dementia Leader of the Year award category at the highly regarded International Dementia Awards 2015.

Appointed as The Christie's first ever Macmillan Dementia Nurse Specialist in 2014, Lorraine has championed the needs of cancer patients who are also suffering from dementia.

Lorraine has worked in the NHS for 40 years, a majority of that working with older people and dementia patients. She is no stranger to winning awards, having been made the Nursing Times, Nurse of the Year less than a year ago and also being made a Queen's Nurse, for her commitment to high standards of practice and patient-centred care.

The Christie's first ever Macmillan Dementia Nurse Consultant, Lorraine spends a majority of her time working besides cancer specialists to support them in working with patients with dementia and cancer; whilst also developing in-patient services for patients with dementia and their carers. In addition, training and developing staffs confidence and skills whilst caring for patients with both conditions is vital.

Lorraine also works in the community with health professionals in complex cases involving cancer and dementia. Dementia education is a large part of her work in both settings.

In her leadership role, Lorraine has introduced a number of important changes to make The Christie a more dementia friendly organisation. She has developed dementia friends and champions for each ward and hospital departments, whilst also working alongside matrons and the estates team to improve the hospital environment to aid orientation for patients with dementia.

In addition, Lorraine has worked alongside the dieticians and catering teams at The Christie to aid nutrition by introducing finger food and personalised menus (where appropriate) for those with dementia or cognitive impairment.

Lorraine believes that collaborative working with others is crucial in enabling positive changes for patients and is currently working with The Christie arts team to promote active therapies to engage and empower people with dementia.

The combination of an aging population and better survival rates for cancer have both contributed to cancer specialists treating an increasing number of patients with cancer and dementia.

Evidence has found that patients with cancer and dementia are more likely to be diagnosed at later stages because of poor symptom recognition; this results in a higher mortality rate than cancer patients without dementia.

However, survival can continue for many years with the right support, education and care for practitioners, patients and carers.

Lorraine is passionate about her groundbreaking role and delighted that her work at The Christie has been recognised by the International Dementia Awards 2015. Commenting she said:

"My role is unique and essential for the increasing number of patients with both cancer and dementia. I'm overjoyed that the work I have been doing is considered to be worthy of an international award. We're seeing more and more dementia in cancer cases as older people are living longer, so support and understanding is crucial".

"Having been brought up in an extended family living with grandparents, I have huge admiration for older people and throughout my professional and personal life have been inspired by their courage, attitude and values.

"My role is about ensuring a better quality of life for people dealing with cancer and dementia, whether that is patients or carers."

The Christie is the only oncology hospital in the UK to have a dementia team. The team works with patients and their carers living with cancer and dementia to ensure they are supported throughout their cancer journey to promote their physical and mental well-being.

Lorraine will find out if she has been successful during the International Dementia Awards 2015 ceremony to be held on the evening of 3rdNovember. The Awards are taking place as part of the International Dementia Conference in Birmingham on 3rd and 4thNovember.

The conference is for everyone involved in supporting people with dementia and their carers, both in the UK and internationally. It runs concurrently with the Care Show 2015, the largest health and social care exhibition in the UK.

The International Dementia Conference will showcase the latest research alongside best practical guidance on helping improve the lives of people with dementia. The conference has a specific focus on innovation and good practice, in the UK and internationally.