Dementia UK specialist Admiral Nurse Rachael Khan-Lowe shares her career highlights and the path to progression as a Clinics Admiral Nurse.
How would you describe your role to someone you’ve just met?
Admiral Nurses are specialist dementia nurses who are continually developed by Dementia UK to provide life-changing support for families affected by dementia. Clinics Admiral Nurses provide that single point of contact for families with dementia accessing primary care, advocating for them and linking them up to services with the oversight of the GP. We also provide professional education and liaison to individuals and support services working in dementia care, including GPs.
What attracted you to your current role?
During one of my placements at university, I was struck by the one-size-fits-all approach to dementia care. I couldn’t understand why a person with a diagnosis of dementia was immediately put on one-on-one care; day-to-day decisions were taken away from them, despite their abilities. As a Clinics Admiral Nurse, we empower families by giving them the confidence to take control of their health needs. By offering expert advice to both families and professionals, we play a key role in facilitating personalised care – focused on the person with dementia and their complex needs.
As a Clinics Admiral Nurse, supported by Dementia UK, I also have many opportunities to keep up to date with the best practice in dementia care. These include receiving monthly clinical supervision support and attending the annual Admiral Nurse Forum, where Admiral Nurses across the country come together to discuss key challenges facing dementia care.
What’s been the stand-out moment in your career so far?
Having come into post as the very first Clinics Admiral Nurse in Nottingham, I built this service from the ground up. I’ve been challenged and pushed out of my comfort zone, but above all, I’ve learnt valuable skills including developing new and innovative ways to connect families with our services. This has included forging relationships with local memory clinics and voluntary services, attending community engagement days, providing service information to members of the public, and taking part in local press opportunities.
As well as this, I’ve advocated for further support for families with dementia by setting up regular meetings with commissioners and invited local carer groups to share their experiences around access to dementia care. I utilised our Clinics service data to showcase the benefit of this support as well. As a result, I helped to secure the appointment of a further three Admiral Nurses in posts across Nottingham West, Ashfield, and Bassetlaw.
What are your ambitions for the future?
I hope to bridge the gap in post-diagnostic support available for families living with dementia by working collaboratively with GPs to increase the awareness of dementia. I’ll also be working with families to ensure they get the right information at the right time. Receiving a diagnosis of dementia can be life-changing, and it is vital that families know how to access the proper support and guidance so they can lead healthy lives as far as possible.
What advice would you give to someone who wanted a job like yours?
I’d recommend starting by gaining experience supporting people with dementia in a variety of settings, such as a specialist dementia hospital ward, or a care home supporting people with dementia. You can find out more information about the Admiral Nurse role by visiting our Pre Admiral Nurse e-learning course.
Five reasons to become an Admiral Nurse
Admiral Nurses are specialist dementia nurses. They work in different care settings and support families facing all forms of dementia