Mon. May 16th, 2022

Isle of Wight Observer News

The Island's Free Newspaper

VECTIS VIEW: Sally, Lady Grylls, Dementia care campaigner

3 min read

Nine years ago, whilst in rehabilitation in a care home in Ryde, following an operation for a broken leg and ankle, I had a life-changing call. I was listening one Sunday morning to the Radio 4 Appeal. Actor, Jim Broadbent, was talking about Dementia UK Admiral Nurses. I had never heard of an Admiral Nurse. Responding to the appeal, I established we had no Dementia UK Admiral Nurses on the Isle of Wight. That was the beginning of a fulfilling affiliation with this special charity.

With much help and encouragement from friends, volunteers and others, Dr Catherine Flury, chairman of Dementia UK Admiral Nurses IW, the appointment of an Admiral Nurse was made at Mountbatten Hospice in 2016, and four at St Mary’s Hospital in Newport.

Former High Sheriff, Ron Holland, wrote: “I was about to be appointed as High Sheriff of the Isle of Wight. This is a great honour which enabled me the opportunity to raise awareness and funds for a special chosen charity. I cast a wide net.

“After much in-depth research, I decided that, as I have yet to meet anyone who does not know of a family or friend who is not affected by some form of memory loss, that I would select Dementia UK Admiral Nurses.”

An Admiral Nurse is an experienced SRN Nurse, who has been specialist-trained and works alongside our dedicated mental health care nurses serving in the community. They support carers and families in their own homes from the moment early on-set dementia is diagnosed. It is their special training which enables them to reassure, hold hands with and guide family carers along the journey. Admiral Nurses are a life-line.

We have all heard it said that ‘it takes courage to grow old’. Everyone hopes to grow old graciously and with the wherewithal to make our own decisions which will determine our future with hope and dignity. So many people (and poor widows!) are stumbling and falling. St Mary’s Hospital is full of vulnerable souls. Many live on their own. Some have no family living on the Island. Visits from friends are currently limited. This is where a nurse, to calm and reassure, is a God-send.

Once a sponsor has been found to fund the annual salary of an Admiral Nurse in a specific area, Dementia UK will identify and approve the partner organisation. Once appointed, the Admiral Nurse will receive ongoing training by Dementia UK. The individual ‘host’ can be a care home, a medical centre, an NHS Care Trust, a hospice, a charity, a company or an individual benefactor such as Dementia UK Admiral Nurse founder, Joe Levy, CBE, BEM.

Joe was a keen sailor, who was affectionately known by his friends as ‘Admiral Joe’ by his friends. On being diagnosed with vascular dementia over 30 years ago, the family felt there was inadequate guidance for them as carers. They realised there was a desperate need for support for carers and families.

Today, dementia is recognised as a global challenge. Since the start of the Coronavirus pandemic, Dementia UK has experienced a 48 per cent increase in calls from desperate people experiencing grief, loneliness and fear.

Should you need advice on managing loss in dementia, or have any concerns, please contact Dementia UK’s national Help-line on 08008 886678, or email helpline@dementiauk.org. The helpline is staffed by experienced Admiral Nurses who give vital support by telephone and email. The Island’s NHS employs four Admiral Nurses and a support worker. The helpline will support you to get in touch with your local service.

For more information visit www.dementiauk.org. Find them on Twitter: @DementiaUK or on Facebook : facebook.com/DementiaUK/.