Date Published: 20 May 2019
Here in the UK, someone develops dementia every three minutes. That’s 480 people every day.
Across Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland, there are now more than 13,000 people living with dementia – a number that’s expected to rise significantly in the years ahead. Yet many people with dementia face it alone and become excluded from their community because of how the condition affects them.
To tackle this challenge and provide a growing number of families with the dementia support they need, Rutland has made it a priority to invest in not one, but two Admiral Nurses with specialist skills that can make a real difference to people’s lives.
“Everyone knows someone that’s either living with dementia or supporting a loved one who has it,” says Admiral Nurse Angela Moore. “Sadly, that isn’t going to change.”
Angela became Rutland’s first Admiral Nurse in March 2018, having been appointed by Rutland County Council. This is in partnership with charity Dementia UK which trains supports and develops Admiral Nurses. Since then, the Council’s dementia support services have helped more than 150 people with dementia, their families and carers.
“We help families who are facing the most complex cases of dementia,” explains Angela. “It’s not just about the individual who has the condition; it’s also about the person or people who are providing care at home. This might be a husband or wife, perhaps a son or daughter. They may need advice or guidance, or have reached a stage where caring for their loved one is having an impact on their own health and they need a break. In any case, our role is to support the relationship that already exists and work out what people need to make life easier and improve their wellbeing.
“We can do this directly or by putting people in touch with other local support services they may not know about. Whatever the circumstances, our main aim is to support people to live how they want and in a way that suits them.”
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, last year. In the past two months the Council has gone on to appoint a second Admiral Nurse, Maggie Fay, in order to expand the service and help even more people.
“There’s a lot that people don’t understand about dementia,” says Maggie. “It’s not just about losing your memory. It’s about people feeling lost in their own homes or carers needing support because their loved one’s personality has changed. If someone has dementia, their tastes may change – they may no longer like their favourite foods. Dementia can also alter the way we see the world around us. Where you or I look at a doormat or a room with a blue carpet, someone with dementia may see a hole in the ground or a lake full of water.
“When you’re supporting someone who has dementia you need to communicate on an emotional level, through feelings. A lot of what we do as Admiral Nurses is about helping people and families to communicate and learn how to understand new behaviours that have been brought about by dementia. Having two Admiral Nurses in Rutland is a tremendous asset and we’re now looking at how we can develop the service to support whole communities – not just individuals and families.”
Dementia is term for a range of progressive conditions that all affect the brain. There are over 200 types of dementia, the most common of which is Alzheimer’s.
Dementia is not a natural part of the ageing process and doesn’t just affect older people. More than 40,000 people in the UK who have dementia are under the age of 65.
“Dementia is a really difficult condition because of how it affects people, but being an Admiral Nurse is incredible rewarding,” explains Maggie. “The people we help are always incredibly grateful for the support they receive. They’re often family members who’ve been struggling to look after the person they love but don’t see themselves as carers, so don’t feel that they’re entitled to support.
“We were recently able to help a lady whose husband has dementia and was on the verge of needing crisis care. The lady wanted to take her son on holiday but didn’t feel she could, because of care commitments. We were able to step in and arrange respite care for her husband, giving everyone in the family the break they needed. The outcome has been really positive. They’re all back home together again but they know they can still call on us for help, if they need it. That’s the most rewarding part of our job – helping people to be happy and to enjoy their relationships again.”
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 contact the Admiral Nurse Service directly by calling Rutland’s Prevention and Safeguarding Team on: 01572 758 341 or emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org.
After contacting the service, Admiral Nurses will arrange to carry out an assessment of your needs, which can take place at home, out in the community or over the phone. The Admiral Nurses will then work with you to identify what support is needed and where other local agencies may be able to assist.
“You can get in touch with us at any time and may even see us out and about in the community, speaking to people and providing care,” says Angela. “Rutland County Council has really embraced the concept of Admiral Nurses and we’re doing all we can to provide the support that people with dementia and their families need. We want to continue to develop the service even further, now that there’s two of us, and want to offer excellence in dementia care in Rutland.”