Dementia UK’s Admiral Nurses provide an emotional and practical lifeline to families living with dementia. We sat down with Matthew Burns who works in and around Wakefield in conjunction with South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust. We talked through his background, the families he supports and developments in post-diagnostic dementia care
• Tell me a little bit about your background
I started off as a mental health nurse 10 years ago, working in an acute mental health older person’s ward. Over the years I became more and more interested in caring for people with dementia, particularly as many carers and families I spoke to felt as though they didn’t have the support and care they needed. It was then that I discovered the role of an Admiral Nurse, a post I have been working in for the past six years. The role allows me to provide an emotional and practical support to families living with dementia and it’s a great fit for me.
• Outline your typical working day in your area
Usually I make about two or three home visits to families with varied needs and circumstances. When meeting these families, I have a range of responsibilities to help them live with dementia more comfortably. On an emotional level, I get families to understand dementia and help them come to terms with the changes that they have both had in their lives.I also employ mindfulness and stress management techniques – again dependent on families’ needs. On a practical level, I support families when decisions about care need to be made. This can range from liaising with different social care providers to advising families on Lasting Powers of Attorney.
• Describe your relationship with Dementia UK
Given that dementia is so underfunded, it’s fantastic to have Dementia UK raising awareness of the work of Admiral Nurses and helping to set up Admiral Nurse support in more UK regions. The charity has always been great with our personal and professional development, regularly putting on masterclasses and practice development days so that Admiral Nurses are always at the forefront of specialist dementia support.
• What do you most enjoy about the role?
The freedom to practice how I want is a huge motivator for me as well as going out onto the field and providing the best, tailored support I can. This allows me to build up long-lasting and worthwhile relationships with carers and families. I know how hard it is for families living with dementia; not only practically but also emotionally. Each day I truly feel that I am making a difference.
• What are some of the challenges?
We support many families living with dementia meaning we have to juggle a lot of responsibilities. As Admiral Nurses, we pride ourselves on offering an individualised service, offering something to everybody living with dementia and ensuring that no one gets left behind.
• What impact have you had on families through your work as an Admiral Nurse?
I currently support a daughter whose father is living with dementia. Following a diagnosis of dementia, life at home became unsustainable for her and a decision was made to move her father into care. I supported the daughter in being able to navigate the often complicated social care system and ensuring that she found a care home which was the right fit for her father’s circumstances. The daughter has been so grateful for Admiral Nurse support.
• How do you see the role of an Admiral Nurse changing over the years?
The digital revolution has impacted lots of sectors and we can expect to see more Admiral Nurses engaging with digital ways of working. Skype consultations could even be a possibility and will allow us to work even more flexibly than we do now. Furthermore, Admiral Nurses could be appearing in more settings like hospices and acute medicine wards.
Attributed to Matthew Burns, Admiral Nurse for Wakefield
Dementia UK offers specialist one-to-one emotional and practical support for families living with dementia through our growing network of Admiral Nurses.
Our Admiral Nurse Helpline is open seven days a week from 9am-9pm Monday-Friday and 9am-5pm on the weekend. You can call 0800 888 6678 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to get the support you need.