NDDH’s Admiral Nurse going ‘over and above’ to support families affected by dementia during the coronavirus crisis

May 6, 2020
Admiral Nurse Angela Walters

North Devon’s Admiral Nurse wants families affected by dementia all across the area to know that she is working hard to make sure they have the support they need.

Angela Walter, Admiral Nurse at Northern Devon Healthcare Trust, has adapted her role to support people with dementia at the Trust and their families, as well as ensuring coordination amongst local services to keep people well at home, reducing the chance of hospital admission.

Angela said: “These are very challenging times, and families and people with dementia can feel even more vulnerable than usual. This is why it’s so important for health and social care professionals to adapt however much they can to make sure that no family with dementia gets left behind.

“I really want families affected by dementia in North Devon to know that we are all working really hard to support you. And we are still here for you if you need help.”

Angela is supporting families who are worried about their relatives in hospital who they are unable to see during the pandemic, due to visitor restrictions. She has been doing regular phone check-ins to give families emotional support.

Angela is also helping people with dementia who are patients in hospital, spending time sitting with them and doing activities to help reduce levels of anxiety. This can involve singing, reminiscing, and using small games such as cards/dominos (single patient use).

Helping reduce the risk of admission to hospital is also really important, and Angela is developing a number of links with the local community to support families affected by dementia, including through carers’ groups.

Some family carers might be finding things very difficult, due to the lack of their usual respite and support services, and spending long periods indoors can be distressing for people with dementia. Angela has identified families in her local area who would benefit from extra time outdoors, whilst still adhering to government guidelines. She has provided them with cards identifying them as living with dementia, working closely with the police so they can now recognise families who need this extra time outside and give them extra assistance where needed.

Darryn Allcorn, chief nurse at the Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust, said: “The coronavirus pandemic has presented the NHS with significant challenges, and I am proud to say that our staff have risen to that challenge and more.

“As an Admiral Nurse, Angela really understands how the pandemic is impacting our patients with dementia and their families, and she is going over and above to make sure these people feel supported and cared for at a really difficult time. Her work, and the work of all our staff, is making a huge difference, and I’m very proud of them.”

Rachel Johnstone, business development officer at Dementia UK, said: “All the news we’re reading at the minute can make us feel overwhelmed but there are still positives to be found. The Admiral Nurse cohort and the nursing workforce in general are displaying huge amounts of passion, education and motivation – not just to families but also to each other and the wider health and social care workforce. Angela has reminded us that this is still the Year of the Nurse – a celebration of the achievements and skills of nurses as designated by the World Health Organisation. We couldn’t be prouder of everything Angela has achieved in the face of such uncertainty.”

If any family with dementia is concerned about what coronavirus means for them, they can visit our Coronavirus online hub.