Admiral Nurse case study: Penny and Wendy

People with dementia and their families deserve the best care at the end of life. We now have 12 Admiral Nurses working in hospices, including Wendy Mountford, who supports people towards the end of life, like Penny Matthews and her mum Betty.

Penny says: “My mum is in the later stages of Alzheimer’s. She’s been in a nursing home for seven years, hasn’t spoken a word for two years, and has been in bed for 10 months.

I met Wendy at a support group last year, and she agreed to help Mum and me. My key contact had just left the home, and I was devastated. But Wendy has helped bridge the gap. I can’t thank her enough – when I really need care she’s there.

Wendy’s helped me agree an end of life plan with the home so we all know what’s going to happen in any eventuality. I was really worried that decisions would be taken out of my hands. It’s a great relief to have it settled, and feel like I’ve got control.

Penny and Wendy

Wendy takes the time to explain things too. Recently Mum’s been having chest infections. Wendy said it could be down to food going into her lungs, and arranged for her to see a speech and language therapist to help with her swallowing.

Mum’s all I’ve got and I’ve done the best I can for her – and Wendy has helped so much. I think Admiral Nurses offer a wonderful service.”

Wendy says: “I’m based in a hospice, so my role mainly involves working with people with advanced dementia and their families, often in their last year of life.

It’s so important people with dementia get specialist end of life care. They have the same right to great care as anyone else with a terminal condition – but don’t always get it. I think I’ve raised awareness of this in the hospice, and got staff to embrace working with people with dementia, through lots of support and training.

I work with families too, helping them plan for end of life, and making sure they understand what to expect at this difficult stage in the dementia journey. It’s about emotional support too. Sometimes relatives can be very upset to hear the word ‘terminal’ and surprised that people do die from dementia.

Dementia can be a lonely journey, especially at the end. That needs to change, and Admiral Nurses are leading the way.”