It’s Dementia Action Week 2021 from Monday 17 May to Sunday 23 May - a time for people to reflect on their own experience of dementia, say our Admiral Nurses Angela, Maggie and Sarah.
“Everyone knows someone that’s either living with dementia or supporting a loved one who has it. Sadly, that isn’t going to change. Someone develops dementia every three minutes in the UK. That’s 480 people every day, and we are all likely to have personal experience of dementia affecting our family members or friends. Figures for Rutland from 2017 show that of 704 individuals thought to be living with dementia, 694 were aged 65 years or over. The total number of people of 65 years and over in the county was around 9,500, which equates to 7.3% of this cohort of population living with dementia
“Dementia is an umbrella term to describe a range of progressive neurological disorders - that is, conditions affecting the brain. There are over 200 subtypes of dementia, but the two most common are Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia. Some people may have a combination of different types of dementia and these are commonly called mixed dementia.
“When thinking about dementia, most people think of memory impairment in older people but dementia is so much more than that. It is not part of normal ageing. Young people may be affected. Dementia is a progressive condition with symptoms which may include:
- Memory loss
- Difficulties with thinking, problem solving or language
- Changes in mood behavior, including changes to personality
- Spatial awareness, falling over, bumping into things
- Affects upon hearing
- Affects upon vision
“There’s a lot that people don’t understand about dementia. It’s not just about losing your memory. Dementia can also alter the way we see the world around us. It could be about people feeling lost in their own homes, or carers needing support because their loved one’s personality has changed.
“The changes may be small to start with, but for some individuals the symptoms may be severe enough to affect daily life. Most people who receive a diagnosis of dementia are aware they may experience memory problems. But they are often surprised when they begin to encounter ‘unexplained ‘sensory changes.
“With the right support people with dementia can live a good quality of life, doing what matters most to them for as long as possible.
“But we don’t just support people with dementia but also those around them. This might be a husband or wife, a partner, perhaps a son or daughter, or a close friend. A lot of what we do is about helping carers and families to communicate, and supporting them to learn how to understand changes that may affect someone living with dementia. They may need advice or guidance, or have reached a stage where caring for their loved one is having an impact on their own wellbeing.
“For instance, we know how extraordinarily difficult it is for anyone to decide it is no longer possible to care for that loved one they’ve been looking after. There is often a range of emotions to be experienced, including feelings of relief, guilt, grief, sadness and gladness.
“This is where we listen, really listen, and help people explore those feelings and emotions linked to loyalty, and promises made. Admiral Nurses also act as an advocate for the person living with dementia, sharing our opinion on what we consider to be the most appropriate and safest support for that person, because sometimes returning home is not the best option.
“Here in Rutland, we are both are privileged to work closely with health and social care colleagues. This can mean liaising with colleagues from the Adult Social Work hospital team, the community psychiatric team, and fellow Admiral Nurses based in the acute trust. We also work together with family members to prevent an unsafe discharge.
“It may not sound like a success story to prevent someone from being discharged home, but failing to do so could result in a crisis. Instead, we can perhaps arrange a discharge into respite care for assessment; that will allow the primary carer a much needed break and breathing space to make decisions for the future. We can’t always make things better, but we can make things less worse.
“We were so pleased to receive this feedback as a result of recent work:
Dementia is a very insidious condition - often by the time it is recognised both the patient and those around them are already in significant need. That was certainly our experience with my Dad. We were in desperate need of support, advice and someone kind to speak to about all sorts of matters relating to Dad’s dementia. The Admiral team have been indispensable in helping us through this difficult time and it is massively reassuring that we can call a friendly but wise voice that understands the ins and outs of a complex and confusing system. I can't really think how we would have coped without their assistance, my Mum has been particularly grateful. Thank you!
“A really useful and helpful resource for anyone supporting a person living with dementia can be found at www.dementiavoices.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/Talking-sense.pdf Or get in touch with us – we’re here in Rutland to help everyone living with, or affected by, dementia.”
About our Admiral Nurses
Rutland became only the second local authority in the whole of the UK to have a dedicated Admiral Nurse among its social care services when it appointed Angela Moore in November 2017 and started providing services in March 2018. This was in partnership with charity Dementia UK which trains, supports and develops the nurses. In 2019, the Council appointed a second Admiral Nurse, Maggie Fay, in order to expand the service and help even more people. Angela and Maggie were joined by a third specialist colleague, Sarah Reeve in September 2020.
They assist families who are facing the most complex cases of dementia; not just the individual who has the condition, but also the person or people who are providing care at home. This could be giving help directly, or by putting people in touch with other local support services they may not know about. Whatever the circumstances, the team’s main aim is to assist people to live how they want and in a way that suits them - giving them one-to-one support, expert guidance and practical solutions.
Rutland’s Admiral Nurse Service is fully funded and delivered by Rutland County Council, in partnership with Dementia UK.
The service is open to anyone in the County with dementia, as well as dementia carers. You can be referred to the Admiral Nurses by a healthcare professional, your doctor, a social worker or a voluntary organisation like AGE UK.
You can also get in touch by
Telephone: 01572 758413
After someone contacts the service, Admiral Nurses will arrange to carry out an initial assessment over the phone. They then identify what support is needed, options for further assessment (which could take place at home or in another preferred place), and where other local agencies may be able to assist.
For more information
Visit the Alzheimer’s Society website for details of Dementia Action Week, 17 to 23 May 2021.
Visit the Dementia UK website and find out more about Admiral Nursing or call the Admiral Nurse Dementia Helpline for free on 0800 888 6678.