Dementia nurse thanked for life-changing support work

A ‘very special’ dementia nurse has been applauded for five years of service to the district’s families, as he prepares to leave his role.

Friday, 10th July 2020, 10:35 am
Updated Friday, 10th July 2020, 10:57 am
Sheila Wainwright with Matthew and Rotary President Stuart Livesey in 2015.

Matthew Burns was recruited as the district’s first Admiral Nurse in 2015, after a four year campaign by Sheila Wainwright.

Supported by Dementia UK, Admiral Nurses provide support and guidance to the families of people with dementia.

Sheila began raising funds after losing her husband John to Alzheimer’s disease in 2011.

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Sheila with husband John.

John was just 59 years old when he was diagnosed with the progressive disease, and gradually became confused and even violent.

She said: “My husband was a lovely, gentle man and he turned into a screaming wreck.

“The person with dementia gets looked after, but the person who’s caring gets no care.

“That’s what admiral nurses do, they give support to the carer and families of people with dementia.

“I was just about rock bottom and suicidal when I first rang the Admiral Nurses.

“I often say that man saved my life.

“After John died and I got my head around living again I thought ‘you can sit on the settee or you can get up and do something worth doing.’

“Matthew’s role and the other nurses, they go in and they support the carer.”

With the help of local Rotarians and community groups, Sheila was able to raise the funds to recruit Matthew in 2015.

There are now two other Admiral Nurses working in the district, though Sheila hopes to see that number increase.

Margaret Brown was caring for her husband Michael when she first met Matthew, and said his support changed her life.

She said: “Michael was the first person Matthew came to visit. I was going through a bad time because I’d been told all the support that I had was being taken away.

“We just seemed to be fighting all the time to get something in place and Michael had reached the stage where I could no longer look after him.

“To have someone like Matthew was very special.”

During his first visit, Matthew noticed that Michael had a cough, and asked a doctor to pay a visit. It was confirmed that Michael had fluid on his lungs, and he was moved to a care home three weeks later.

But for Margaret, it was an important turn of events.

“The next day Matthew phoned,” Margaret said. “I’m never going to forget it, I came off the phone and I just couldn’t stop crying.

“For the first time, I felt that somebody actually cared. Matthew helped me all the way through the process. He was just wonderful.

“If only Matthew had been there earlier, it would have made my life so much easier.”