New nursing role will offer extra support for dementia patient carers

From left, Admiral Nurse Vanessa McLean; CHUFT director of nursing Catherine Morgan; Victoria Lyons,

From left, Admiral Nurse Vanessa McLean; CHUFT director of nursing Catherine Morgan; Victoria Lyons, senior consultant Admiral Nurse (Dementia UK); and Admiral Nurse Maisey Dear at the Admiral Nurses launch, held in the Iceni Lecture Theatre at Colchester General Hospital. Picture: CHRIS BRAMMER - Credit: CHRIS BRAMMER

Relatives of dementia patients receiving treatment at Colchester General Hospital can now access dedicated support to overcome difficulties following the launch of a specialist service.

Former dementia care nurse specialists Maisey Dear and Vanessa Mclean have converted to admiral nurses.

The pair receive referrals from colleagues when a patient has been admitted to the hospital and their families are experiencing challenges or struggling to cope.

They offer one-to-one emotional support and practical guidance, including help with discharge planning and information about different types of dementia and its progression. Families will also be signposted to other relevant services such as carers’ groups.

Mrs Dear and Miss Mclean are among just 12 admiral nurses employed in acute hospitals across the country, and a total of 217 working in different settings across the UK.

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As part of their role, they will attend monthly training sessions organised by charity Dementia UK to ensure they are up-to-date with best practice, and will also offer training, education and advice to their colleagues at Colchester.

Mrs Dear, who has worked at the hospital for 20 years, said: “We firmly believe that supporting the family helps them to look after the patient more effectively, and are very excited about the difference this new role will make.”

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Miss Mclean added: “We are very proud to be able to offer the Admiral Nurse service at Colchester and hope that we can make a real difference to people’s lives.

“Being a carer is really hard work, and is even more difficult when you are caring for someone with a cognitive impairment.

“They are real unsung heroes and it’s vitally important that we do whatever we can to support them, which is what the role of admiral nurse is all about.”

Miss Mclean has worked at Colchester General Hospital since 2008.

In their previous roles, Mrs Dear and Miss Mclean were responsible for screening all inpatients aged over 75 for dementia as part of the national dementia strategy, which focuses on increasing diagnosis rates. This work is now carried out by staff on the wards.

Dr Hilda Hayo, chief executive and chief admiral nurse at Dementia UK, said: “People with dementia often end up in hospital for other reasons. The admiral nurses in Colchester Hospital will work to give these patients the best possible care, with their specific requirements in mind, as well as ensuring the families of these patients are kept involved and well-informed.”

The Admiral Nurse Dementia Helpline can be accessed via 0800 888 6678 or

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