Letter - A plea for better dementia care

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It seems very strange that Kirklees has recently appointed two more Admiral Nurses making a total of eight, a team that is offering remarkable, compassionate and long term support for carers of people with dementia.

Kirklees has recognised that supporting the ever-increasing need for carers and people with dementia is crucial. Why doesn’t Wakefield recognise this need?

Who and what are Admiral Nurses? They are the MacMillan nurses for dementia. As with MacMillan Nurses, their role is to support a family, from the moment of diagnosis. They are mental health nurses trained specifically to provide consistent, continuous and personal support to the carer.

They are there to guide, provide professional knowledge about the progression of the disease, give a clear understanding of drugs, put in place a consistent team of carers, enable contact with medical support - all things which can be achieved so much more easily by the carer looking after someone with a physical illness. Dementia UK is a charity set up to provide such specialist and specific support nationwide.

Only a carer with first hand knowledge of the grinding, debilitating and deeply depressing 24 hours on duty with someone you love who has dementia, can talk with understanding of the need for such support. Wakefield does have mental health nurses but their workload means the support can be fragmented and intermittent. It is the consistency and continuity that are so important

People with cancer have MacMillan Nurses, amazing people who walk through the pathway of illness with the family - their care and compassion are recognised throughout the country. There are wonderful hospices providing support at the end of life. What is there for dementia? Why is there not such support for people with Alzheimers or associated mental illnesses?

The Rotary Club of Wakefield has recognised this crucial area of the health service which is not being addressed seriously, locally and nationally. They have already contributed, along with other local rotary clubs, to awareness raising and fund raising to enable the first Admiral Nurse in Wakefield to be appointed with a view to persuading Wakefield decision makers to work towards the provision of the service that Kirklees is providing. Now the NHS and CCGs must take this forward and recognise there is a serious gap in provision for supporting the ever-growing numbers of carers living in a world of misery which is beyond belief.

Please people who read this, tell your council members, tell your stories to your GPs, write to the CCGs, ask a friend or relative to tell your story because you could be helping others.

Sheila Wainwright

Woolley

Dr Phil Earnshaw, chairman of NHS Wakefield CCG, said: “In Wakefield, services for dementia patients and their carers are funded jointly by the local authority and the NHS. We currently commission these services from Wakefield and District Carers and the Alzheimer’s Society. We keep all our services (including mental health and dementia services) under review, and continue to meet with patient representatives. The feedback we receive is part of our planning for the service in future years, which we will develop to ensure that we build on the good things that are happening, and an analysis of what we need to do to meet any gaps in care.”