New admiral nurses to provide dementia support in North Somerset

Admiral nurses

Admiral nurses help families before and after a dementia diagnosis. - Credit: Dementia UK

A charity has allocated funds to support the development of two new admiral nurses in Somerset to provide vital support for families before and after a dementia diagnosis. 

Covid-19 has a huge impact on people with dementia, with many unable to get a diagnosis during lockdown, while carers have been left struggling to provide full-time care without their usual support networks. 

As a result, Dementia UK has seen a huge surge in demand for its Admiral Nursing Helpline during the pandemic - with 28 per cent more people calling for support.  

Admiral nurses work alongside people with dementia, and their families: giving them one-to-one support, expert guidance and practical solutions. They continued to provide face-to-face support during the lockdown. 

The charity has now announced its biggest investment into dementia specialist nurses to support families. More than 19 new nurses will be placed in community settings – with two set for North Somerset and Somerset. 

Rachel Johnstone, Dementia UK's business development officer for the South West, said: “We have been trying to keep people out of hospital even more so than normal, so much more falling has been falling on family carers.

"There's been a huge impact in terms of people dying from Covid with dementia. Dementia is the number one co-existing condition.

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"Care homes had to restrict visitors, so family members couldn't see their loved ones, which has been really difficult.

"There’s also been a huge fall in the number of people being assessed for dementia. Thousands of people haven’t been assessed and are potentially living with dementia and carers are not getting the support they desperately need.   

"During the pandemic, it’s been a case where family carers have had to struggle on with even less support. 

“Because there have been a lot of changes such as mask wearing, and restrictions, we’ve seen some worsening of behavioural and psychological symptoms in people with dementia during the lockdown period and that increase has a corresponding impact on the carer.  

“It’s going to take such a long time for waiting lists to recover because of everything the health and social care services have to address. That’s longer that families have to take on care of loved ones without a diagnosis and referrals to the wrap-around support they need.” 

Admiral nurses

Dementia UK is investing in more admiral nursing roles to provide support to people with dementia, and family carers. - Credit: Dementia UK

Admiral Nurses can help families – whether they are waiting for a diagnosis, caring for a loved one at home, or supporting a family member in a care home. They work in a range of care settings and also support primary care professionals, such as GPs, in their understanding around dementia.    

There are currently 22 admiral nurses already in primary care settings already, and Dementia UK is investing £1million to support more than 19 new roles across the country, 

Paul Edwards, director of clinical services at Dementia UK said: “These new roles within primary care in the UK come at a time when people with dementia have never needed more support.   

“From recent research, we know how stretched GPs are providing critical care to some of the most vulnerable people in society; we also know how families can be overwhelmed at the sheer amount of information they can be given at diagnosis, with limited time to talk these issues through.   

“That’s why having more dementia specialist nurses working at the heart of primary care is essential, to distil that sheer wealth of information to families and to support GPs in their understanding of a condition as complex as it is life-limiting.”   

The new admiral nurse roles will be based within primary care and Dementia UK hopes to establish these over the next year.

Rachel added: “Family carers are the absolute back bone of dementia care. Health and social care services wouldn’t survive without the support of family carers.   

"Our vision is to ensure all families get that specialist dementia support they need now more than ever.” 

Dementia UK’s Admiral Nurse Dementia Helpline is available at 08008 886678 or via email at helpline@dementiauk.org 

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