It is Dementia Action Week,[i] (20-26 May 2019) and LOROS Hospice, which provides care and support to terminally ill patients, their family and carers, both at the Hospice and in patients’ own homes across Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland, is highlighting the growing need for nurses with specialist skills in dementia care to work in hospices. Currently Dementia UK has 261 Admiral Nurses, and only 16 work in hospices[ii].
There are 850,000 people with dementia in the UK, with numbers set to rise to over 1 million by 2025. This is estimated to soar to 2 million by 2051[iii]. One in six people over the age of 80 have dementia.
LOROS Hospice recently recruited Cathy Knight, its first Admiral Nurse. Admiral Nurses are dementia specialist nurses who provide expert practical, clinical and emotional support to families living with dementia. They play a unique role in care management by joining up the different parts of the health and social care system, so the needs of family carers and people with dementia can be addressed in a co-ordinated way.
Ruth Auton, Director of Workforce and Education at LOROS Hospice says, “Dementia is a terminal illness without a cure. Many of our patients have co-conditions, which means they may have a terminal cancer diagnosis, as well as a dementia diagnosis. It’s important our staff are trained to support people through their dementia journey from diagnosis through to end of life. Recruiting Cathy is very much part of our strategy to support staff and volunteers, as well as patients, carers and their families and ensure we are providing the very best care we can.”
Cathy explains, “I’ve worked with older adults throughout my career and have lots of experience working with people and families living with dementia. A large part of my role as an Admiral Nurse is education and at LOROS I will help train staff and volunteers to be more confident about caring for people living with dementia. End of life care and dementia is an area which has not been done so well in the past. Fortunately, this is changing and ensuring people are supported through the whole journey of dementia from diagnosis to end of life is a high priority.
Cathy says awareness days such as Dementia Action Week are an ideal opportunity to start having proper conversations around dementia. LOROS will be holding a master class for staff and volunteers during this week as part of their ongoing mission to improve dementia care.
Cathy says, “There are a lot of myths and perceptions around dementia and I’m keen to promote the fact that people shouldn’t be defined by the illness. Although dementia is a life-limiting condition, it’s important that people have access to the right support and interventions, especially when they are coming to the end of their lives. I’m hoping that LOROS can lead the way in our region, changing attitudes and working together with other services, to provide the very best care and support for people.”