Currently, some 2,716 Doncaster residents have been diagnosed with dementia and we estimate that, for a borough our size, a further 875 people will have the disease but have yet to be identified.
With an ageing society, dementia is a growing concern for the NHS and can be very demanding on the families of those who have the disease. It’s important that we have good local services to help and a year ago we took a big step forward when – thanks to a partnership between the NHS, Doncaster Council and voluntary sector – a new team of dedicated dementia specialists called Admiral Nurses started work in the borough.
Since then, the three nurses, supported by dementia advisors, have been busy making a big impact on local families who have been touched by dementia and they now have over 1700 Doncaster clients on their books. Collectively, the team – which is based at Tickhill Road Hospital – has exceeded expectations, providing a valuable source of information, advice, support, education and training.
An evaluation by Sheffield Hallam University has found the service to be excellent at helping people stay at home, living independently and safely.
In fact they have been so successful that an extra Admiral Nurse is to be recruited in Doncaster, making four in total. The four nurses – supported by four dementia advisors – will each cover one of four geographical areas of the borough and link up with local services.
Once a patient has been diagnosed with dementia by a local mental health professional they are automatically referred to the Admiral Service, which means they and their family have a point of contact. Depending on their individual needs, the nurse can sometimes make personal contact up to three times a week, but this tends to reduce as time goes on and the family learns how to live with dementia.
Everyone is different and carers want to know they are doing a good job. They want to understand how the illness progresses and the Admiral Service is able to teach carers the skills they need to look after someone with dementia. Crucially, the team is also able to provide emotional support, which should never be underestimated.
Importantly, when a family contacts the Service they remain on the team’s caseload until they ask to be discharged. They can ring their nurse or dementia advisor when they need advice and in some cases there can be weeks, even months, between contacts. But the value to Doncaster families is in knowing that help is just a phone call away.
Admiral Nurses were named in memory of Joseph Levy, founder of the Dementia UK charity, who had vascular dementia. He was nicknamed ‘Admiral Joe’ because of his love of sailing.
· The Doncaster Admiral Service is managed by social care charity Making Space. For more information ring 01302 796066 or email firstname.lastname@example.org