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.
During her career, Cathy Knight spent over 30 years working as a mental health nurse, working mainly in the community with older adults. Three years ago, she set up Coventry and Rugby’s Admiral Nurse Community service. After seeing an advert for a role at LOROS, Cathy decided to apply and joined as their first Admiral Nurse.
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 also provides specialist support to staff, patients and their families and she finds her role hugely rewarding. She says, “One of the best things about being an Admiral Nurse is we have time to spend with people and their families. I’m there to answer their questions, explore the right interventions and treatments and direct people to other services, if they need them. I’m also there to have the more difficult conversations about planning for the future, to help the individual’s families and carers, to understand what is important to them, when they may no longer be able to make their wishes and preferences known.”
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.”
LOROS Hospice is part of the Y/Our Future recruitment campaign that unites five major health and social care employers – University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust, Rutland County Council and Leicester City Council – to recruit doctors, nurses and health and social care workers to work in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland.
Y/Our Future aims to promote Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland as a leading career destination for health and social care professionals, with great career and lifestyle opportunities.
For current vacancies across the county visit: https://www.your-future.co.uk/