Help at hand for dementia

When I was growing up the word ‘dementia’ did not exist in my vocabulary or that of my parents, neighbours or friends.

By Julie Frost, HospiceCare North Northumberland
Friday, 26 April, 2019, 12:40
Heatherdale Care Home.

However, 50 or so years later, it’s now a word most of us hear almost every day.

According to the Alzheimer’s Society, there are 850,000 people with dementia in the UK (over 40,000 under 65), with numbers set to rise to over a million by 2025. This year, someone will develop dementia every three minutes.

Betty Lucas is a dementia nurse who supports families and carers. She works closely with the HospiceCare nursing team, which allows her to refer a patient who requires end-of-life care into our Hospice at Home services.

Betty has had 36 referrals from families seeking support for a loved one with advanced dementia. One lady had been caring for her bed-bound mum for over a year with no support. The poor daughter was exhausted. Betty provided respite care to enable her to take some time for herself.

Seventy per cent of people in care homes have some form of dementia. Two years ago, HospiceCare embarked on a ground-breaking programme to deliver dementia training to staff in residential care homes across North Northumberland.

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Since then, nine care homes have completed the training. We hope the rest will be completed within the next two years. The feedback we have received has been tremendous.

Allison Moore, manager at Heatherdale, Broomhill, said: “We have always been really good at providing end of life care, but the training has reassured us that we are doing the right things.”

Moira Simpson, manager of Tweed View, Berwick, said: “Following the training we have two key members of staff who link with HospiceCare. This enables us to have an ongoing relationship with HospiceCare and link into its palliative care.” ​

Dementia is now a fact of life and it’s reassuring to know that HospiceCare is here, providing care where and when it’s needed, and that we can remain at home at the end of our life, surrounded by our families and friends.

That’s why trustees, staff and volunteers at HospiceCare strive to deliver, free, the best nursing care and support to people living with a life-limiting illness where and when they want it, because life and death matter.

Until next time, be kind to yourself.