Since 2012 the Legion’s Admiral Nurses have been providing essential support for carers of those with dementia in the Armed Forces community in Lancashire, the West Midlands, Hampshire and Somerset.
Six months ago the service expanded to Leeds and Bradford where the team have already seen 78 beneficiaries.
"We work with the family, rather than solely supporting the person with the diagnosis of dementia"
Nicky Addison is a Regional Lead Admiral Nurse and helped establish the service in the area.
“Before we came along, Leeds was fairly fortunate among UK cities because they have Carers Leeds, a charity that supports dementia carers and families,” explains Nicky.
“But they didn’t have our specialism – trained nurses, with many years of experience working with people with a diagnosis of dementia, targeting specific support to the families of people living with such a diagnosis.
“What we’re finding now, after only six months of operation, is that we’re complementing what the other local charity does.”
How Admiral Nurses Help
The Admiral Nurse service has been developed in partnership with Dementia UK, the charity providing specialist dementia support for families. They support the service by providing clinical supervision each month.
Dementia UK then works with host organisations to employ the nurses, the Legion being one of them, using the scheme to help people in several areas of the UK.
“One challenge we’ve had is explaining how the Admiral Nurse service can help,” says Nicky.
“Our key aim is to improve the carer’s quality of life – which in turn will improve the life of their loved one”
“NHS and council professionals are aware of us, but because there are so few of us in the country, the general public do need educating.
“The key message that needs to be spread is the fact that we work with the family, rather than solely supporting the person with the diagnosis of dementia.”
“Starting from scratch is a slow process,” she adds.
“I’ve made contact with GPs so they know they can refer carers to us for support.
“But our main starting point was to visit everyone who is involved in this world – from charities to the NHS, from council services to dementia cafes – explaining what we do and asking for potential beneficiaries to be pointed our way.”
Prolonging Independent Living
Admiral Nurses are a cornerstone of the Legion’s drive to preserve and prolong independent living in the Armed Forces community, and after six months in Leeds and Bradford, the team are providing support to over 60 families.
Carers can endure terrible stress and Nicky talks of visiting a carer on a weekly basis who was struggling to cope with caring for a loved one with dementia, and had thoughts of taking his own life.
Our team of Admiral Nurses offers practical clinical and emotional support to families and carers of those with dementia
“There’s an army of dementia carers in the UK – but they’re often isolated and don’t always recognise themselves as ‘carers’, but as a wife or husband doing what they promised they would do,” she says.
“After six months here, we’ve already had 78 referrals, and we’re currently supporting 62 families.
“We want to offer emotional support – some people just need to offload – and give our clients some strategies to make them a better carer, and make the caring process a smoother and more effective one, so it’s less of a strain.
“Our key aim is to improve the carer’s quality of life – which in turn will improve the life of their loved one.”