Dr Nick Tupper blog: Nurses a boost for people with dementia

Screen Shot 2016-03-30 at 12.33.00Improving local services for Doncaster people with dementia is one of our key priorities as a clinical commissioning group.

Which is why I’m pleased to report that support for local people and families who are touched by the disease has been given a major boost.

Thanks to a partnership between the NHS, Doncaster Council and voluntary sector, a new team of dedicated dementia specialists are now operating across the borough.

Called Admiral Nurses, they play a similar role to the well-known and respected Macmillan Nurses, but their focus is on dementia. Three highly trained nurses and a clinical manager now work in people’s homes to provide a familiar point of contact for information, advice, support, education and training for the whole family.

There are just over 160 Admiral nurses working in the country and the Doncaster service is a vital new addition. They 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.

Eight dementia advisors support the Doncaster nurses, working alongside all Doncaster GP’s. They provide advice, information and signpost people with dementia, and their carers, to local support services that provide help.

It’s a pioneering service for the town: the first time we have been able to bring together specialist nursing and dementa advice to seamlessly act as a vital link between those who have dementia and GPs, local hospitals, care homes and end of life services.

Crucially, those diagnosed with dementia – or their families – can self-refer to the team. Managed by social care charity Making Space, the free to use service is available to anyone who is registered with a Doncaster GP.

Referrals are also made by GPs and other health and social care staff.

Currently, some 2680 people in Doncaster have been diagnosed with dementia and we estimate that, for a town our size,  a further 800 or more people may have the disease but have yet to be identified.

Our aim as manager of the borough’s NHS budget is to organise and pay for services that help diagnose people earlier and also support them and their families following their diagnosis.

One of the key advantages of the Doncaster Admiral Service is that is helps people to live independently at home for as long as possible, which is what Doncaster people tell us is important to them.

Importantly, we know that the service will help reduce the number of emergency admissions to hospital, as the care of people with dementia will be more effectively managed where they live. This will be better for those who have dementia and will also save the NHS money.

Increasingly, the NHS is looking at ways of working closely with organisations across the state and voluntary sectors to deliver services. This is a good example of what can be done locally.

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