North Devon now has its very own Admiral Nurse, who will be supporting patients with dementia, their carers, families and staff at North Devon District Hospital (NDDH). Angela Walter has been appointed as Admiral Nurse – dementia clinical nurse specialist at NDDH.
Admiral Nurses provide specialist support to people with dementia and their carers and families, giving one-to-one support, practical advice and expert guidance. They are trained and supported by the charity Dementia UK.
Angela has spent many years working in the hospital as a nurse and was most recently sister on Capener Ward. In this new role she is the first hospital-based Admiral Nurse in Devon. This is the latest development in the Trust’s drive to improve dementia care.
Angela said: “I am extremely proud to be an Admiral Nurse. Helping our patients with dementia has been a real passion of mine, and I am really pleased to be able to focus on this now.
“I will be helping people to live well with dementia and giving carers and families the support I know can be so valuable to them.”
In her role, Angela will also deliver education and training to staff at the Trust to help them improve the care they give to patients with dementia and those who support them.
Before becoming an Admiral Nurse, Angela helped to introduce the ‘This is me – getting to know me’ document to the Trust. The document can be used to gather valuable information about patients with dementia and helps staff to better understand the individual. Understanding things such as their hobbies and interests, what helps them to relax, and what things cause them to feel anxious can help staff deliver more personalised care.
Andrea Bell, deputy director of nursing at the Trust, said: “We have been doing a lot of work across the Trust to improve the experience of people with dementia, their carers and their loved ones, and this new role is a great development.
“Admiral Nurses have been a huge benefit to other communities across the country and now people in northern Devon can benefit from this expert specialist care too.”
Dr. Hilda Hayo, CEO and chief Admiral Nurse at Dementia UK, added: “I know that Angela will play an absolutely fantastic role in helping families in Devon face dementia. People often hear about the challenges that people with dementia go through, but it’s often the silent carers, such as partners and close relatives, who are in need of specialist support. Angela will be supporting both groups with her amazing breadth of dementia expertise and experience.”
Angela is looking to build up a directory of all the local groups and projects people have set up to support people with dementia, carers and families.
If you are involved in a project helping people with dementia and those who support them, please get in touch with Angela at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 01271 313998.
Improving dementia care at NDHT
The Trust supports John’s Campaign, which supports the right of carers and family to stay with patients with dementia in hospital – sleeping arrangements have been introduced onto each ward for carers. Through using charitable funds, the Trust can provide vouchers to help carers with mealtimes.
Dementia crockery is now used to help patients identify their food better, and there has been a trial of hot options for finger foods to give dementia patients more choice at mealtimes.
A dementia companion volunteer scheme has launched at NDDH, which involves a trained volunteer sitting with patients and engaging with them according to their individual interests, which could include activities like chatting, reading, playing cards, painting or singing.
With the support of volunteers, activities and events are held regularly for patients on Fortescue Ward, the purpose-built dementia ward at NDDH. These events include exercise classes, afternoon tea, bingo, music and crafts.