In September 2018, Dougie Mac appointed Becky Kean as its second Admiral Nurse and became the only hospice in the UK to have two specialised dementia nurses based in a hospice. This follows the appointment of Wendy Mountford as the first Admiral Nurse in Staffordshire in May 2017, and only the fourth to be based in a UK hospice at that time.
The Admiral Nurse Service has been developed in partnership with Dementia UK, the national charity that provides specialist dementia care for families through Admiral Nursing, and both positions are part-funded by the organisation.
Becky brings a wealth of palliative care experience to the team to complement Wendy’s passion and knowledge for working with people with Dementia. Together, the duo work alongside health and social care services to strengthen the quality of support provided to families facing dementia; provide dementia training and Admiral Nurse awareness sessions, externally to healthcare professionals and also internally to teams within the hospice; as well as participate in local dementia steering groups to share best practices.
Working in health and social care settings since the age of 19, Becky has amassed a great understanding of palliative care and became acquainted with families navigating the difficulties of dealing with dementia.
Becky joined the Dougie Mac team in 2016, having had many relatives touched by cancer. She said: “I wished to give something back to the hospice that cares for so many local people affected by life-limiting illnesses. I joined the nursing team on the Inpatient Unit and was honoured to be able to make a difference during the last moments of a person’s life, and to support their loved ones through the process.
“When, in June of this year, an opportunity arose for a secondment, working alongside Wendy as an Admiral Nurse, I jumped at the chance to utilise my experience in working in palliative care to support local families to deal with living with dementia.
“The most important part of my role is spending time with people with a diagnosis of dementia and developing a supportive relationship with their family and carers. The journey following that initial diagnosis can be a lonely and isolating one. Families are often unaware of the support and peer networks available which can lead to a struggle to make sense of the challenges that dementia can bring. Myself and Wendy are able to offer practical, emotion and clinical support to families throughout that journey, utilising our skills, experience and multi-disciplinary services within the hospice to enable people to live well with dementia, and die well with dementia.
“Day-to-day duties as an Admiral Nurse vary hugely but I frequently conduct community visits to those referred to us from Palliative Care Nurses, GPs, District Nurses and Approach Cafés. It is during these visits that I can identify the support services that will most benefit the individual and their families and carers which may include making a referral for; a Dougie Mac Volunteer Buddy to visit and provide companionship and physical help, where required; or Dougie Mac Complementary Therapists to provide therapies to minimise stress and promote relaxation.
“The most fulfilling aspect of my role is meeting and supporting some truly inspirational people; not only those with a diagnosis of dementia but also those who dedicate each day and night to caring for loved ones who have dementia. With the continued support of the hospice and Dementia UK, I am excited to play a pivotal part in this much-needed and valued service within Stoke-on-Trent and North Staffordshire.”
The Dougie Mac Admiral Nursing Team continues to work closely with local dementia specialist charity Approach, particularly following the announcement of the strategic alliance between the two charities. The partnership offers a more streamlined view to care for those living with dementia and a seamless transition from early-diagnosis support provided by Approach, to palliative care delivered by Dougie Mac.
Jeanette McCartney, Dougie Mac Director of Care, commented:
“Our Admiral Nursing team is going from strength to strength following the recent appointment of Becky. With the hospice working alongside Approach, our aim is to forge a powerful alliance between these two influential local charities. Our combined strength will accentuate the contemporary commitment we both have to alleviating the problems associated with a dementia diagnosis. Our partnership will mould the landscape for this kind of specialist care in North Staffordshire.”
Dr Hilda Hayo, Chief Admiral Nurse and Chief Executive at Dementia UK, is pleased to continue working with Dougie Mac:
“We are extremely pleased to be working in partnership with the Dougie Mac and the North Staffordshire Combined Healthcare NHS Trust. The recruitment of a second Admiral Nurse will mean that even more local families will be provided with the specialist dementia support that they need.”