Admiral Nurses: Supporting carers in the Armed Forces community

The Legion’s Admiral Nurse service supports carers of those with dementia and plays a vital role in preserving and prolonging independent living for ex-Service men and women, and their dependents.

Admiral Nurses often encounter fear from carers that their loved one will be assessed, then removed and placed in residential care.

However, the opposite is true. Nurses draw on their experience to support the family, rather than solely the person with a dementia diagnosis, and help them stay in their own homes for as long as it’s safe for them to do so.

“There’s an army of dementia carers in the UK – but they’re often isolated and don’t always recognise themselves as carers,” says Nicky Addison, a Regional Lead Admiral Nurse.

After an initial meeting with a carer, an Admiral Nurse agrees a plan of care, identifying areas where they need support. This can often involve regular home visits, the aim being to support the family to live as independently and as well as they can.

“Our key aim is to improve the carer’s quality of life"

“We assess risks and gather what we need for individualised care plans,” explains Nicky.

“Carers may contact us when they’re struggling to cope with a sudden change in their loved one’s presentation or in their own circumstances.

“We equip them with the knowledge, skills and support to cope with their situation.”

“We don’t take over,” she adds.

Admiral Nurses work with carers and families to provide emotional and psychological support throughout the caring journey

“We want to offer emotional support – some people just need to offload – and give our clients some strategies to make them a better carer, and make the caring process a smoother and more effective one, so it’s less of a strain.

“Our key aim is to improve the carer’s quality of life – which in turn will improve the life of their loved one.”

As a trained nurse, an Admiral Nurse is best placed to liaise closely with social and NHS services, and can often point a carer towards resources they weren’t aware of.

“My training is fairly typical,” says Nicky.  

“I’ve been a qualified, registered mental health nurse for 15 years. I’ve worked on an NHS older people’s mental health ward, and have been a community psychiatric nurse, and I’ve been an Admiral Nurse for five years.

“But now I use my skills and experiences from working with people diagnosed with dementia to support the family carers, to enable them to hopefully have a better quality of life.

“We work very closely with the Legion’s Independent Living team and also with the Handy Vans service that helps keep older people safe in their own homes.”

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