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Dementia Action Week: Jan’s Story

This week marks Dementia Action Week; a national campaign that encourages people to come together and take small actions that will make a huge difference to people living with dementia.

Jan Lowe shares her story with us of how Wendy, Dougie Mac’s Admiral Nurse, supported her family during dark and challenging times…

My mum had always been so intelligent and such a gentle soul but sadly, she had become very unwell following a diagnosis of Dementia which caused her to display exceedingly challenging behaviours.

The dementia didn’t just affect Mum; it had a devastating impact on the entire family. As her health declined, she became aggressive and we had to keep an eye on her at all times. It was a huge shock for the whole family; we barely recognised the person in front of us and there were some very dark times.

We were exhausted and a family in crisis, so when mum’s Community Psychiatric Nurse made a referral to Dougie Mac, and they were able to send Admiral Nurse Wendy out to support us, we were incredibly thankful.

When Wendy first visited our home in May 2017, it was a huge weight off all our shoulders. She did an amazing job of supporting mum, through giving advice regarding pharmacological/non-pharmacological approaches regarding her behaviours, as well as having a calming effect on her. Wendy quickly became our lifeline, pure and simple.

She was able to provide us with guidance and advice, and gave us the ability to have a well-needed rest when she was around as we knew mum was completely safe in her hands.

Within just weeks of working with our family, Wendy was able to liaise with secondary mental health services who arranged a period of assessment at the Harplands Hospital, one of the main providers locally of mental health services; including specialist care for people, like Mum, in the advanced stages of dementia.

We were so relieved that Mum was somewhere she could get the round the clock care and support she needed, and it gave our family that little bit of breathing space once again.

Even after being admitted to Harplands, Wendy kept in close touch with all of us, particularly my Dad to see how we were coping and to offer advice. She was always available at the other end of the phone if we had a question or if we needed a bit of emotional support.

In October 2017, Mum was well enough to be discharged back home. She remained very settled but sadly, passed away in November 2017; it was hard but knowing that she received the best care and support in her final months is a huge comfort for us all.

We feel privileged to have had Wendy in our lives and our heart goes out to all the people that have to face this battle alone.

We were lucky enough to have such an amazing local hospice able to support us during these difficult times. However, this service can only continue to be delivered through the generous donations from the local community that make up 80% of the £12million required per year to keep the hospice and its services running.

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