Campaign kicks off for second dementia nurse for Purbeck

A £100,000 fundraising appeal has been launched to fund another Admiral nurse – a registered nurse who specialises in dementia – due to the increasing demand in Purbeck, Dorset.

Rachel Murray, Purbeck’s first Admiral nurse was appointed in 2017 following a campaign by Jean Gibbs, whose husband and sister were both living with dementia with little or no help available in the community.

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Rachel Murray admiral nurse

Rachel Murray, Purbeck’s first Admiral nurse helps launch the campaign at Swanage and Wareham Rugby Club

Desperate need to share the workload

But the need for the services of the Admiral nurse has increased so much that there’s now a desperate requirement for a support nurse to share the workload – and the Purbeck community has been asked to raise up to £120,000 over the next year to make that dream a reality.

At a fundraising launch by Dementia Friendly Purbeck at Swanage and Wareham Rugby Club in Wareham on Monday 22nd April 2024, almost £25,000 was pledged to kick off the appeal.

Dementia Friendly Purbeck itself has set aside £22,000 from its own funds, while Swanage and Purbeck Rotary donated £1,000, a second £1,000 came from Stoborough village pantomime Puss In Boots – which featured Rachel Murray herself in the cast – and from woodworker George Smith, who lives with dementia himself, who raised £335 by selling his carvings and walking sticks at local fetes and fairs.

Cheque for Dementia friendly Purbeck

Cast from the Stoborough village pantomime donate £1,000 to the chair of Dementia Friendly Purbeck Mike Bonfield (second from right)

Cheque for Dementia friendly Purbeck

George Smith (left) hands over a cheque of £335 to Mike Bonfield (right)

“More needs to be done”

Mike Bonfield, chair of Dementia Friendly Purbeck, said:

“One of our first aims on forming was to raise funds to support getting a community Admiralty nurse for Purbeck to address the key priorities around dementia which had been identified at national level, but which needed to be delivered at a local level.

“We needed to raise awareness and understanding of dementia across Purbeck to create a safe and non-stigmatising community where people with dementia could live well. I believe we have achieved most of our aims.

“We have worked very closely with NHS Dorset and Dementia UK at all times and our Admiral nurse Rachel was appointed in July 2017 and has been incredibly busy since.

“With such initiatives as memory boxes, singing for pleasure, a dementia drop-in café and dementia friendly films, a memory garden in Wareham, awareness stalls at public events and floats in Swanage and Wareham carnivals we have helped to get a higher profile for dementia in Purbeck – but still more needs to be done.”

Brad Rootes, Rachel Murray, Jean Gibbs and Rachel Johnsone

Cutting the cake (left to right) NHS East Dorset locality manager Brad Rootes, Admiral nurse Rachel Murray, original campaign founder Jean Gibbs, and Rachel Johnson of Dementia UK

Those living with dementia expected to increase

The Purbeck Admiral Nurse service has received 247 referrals in the last 12 months, and 241 of those patients have been contacted by the area’s sole Admiral nurse and are receiving ongoing face to face support from her.

But the number of people living with dementia in Dorset is expected to rise by about 40 percent in the next ten years as life expectancy levels rise – and the biggest increase is expected to be among those living with severe dementia, with the most complex needs.

Launch of appeal for second dementia nurse

The launch of the campaign in the clubhouse at the Swanage and Wareham RFC in Wareham

“Have to keep up the fundraising momentum”

Mike Bonfield added:

“So, we are now going to start fundraising for a second Admiral nurse for Purbeck. Rachel’s workload is on the increase and we know there are residents, living with dementia and dealing with the many problems this can bring, who may be slipping through the net and this is not acceptable.

“My aim would be to stand here within the next 12 months to announce that we have nearly reached the target and to ask for the second Admiral nurse to be selected – we have to keep up the fundraising momentum because if we slow down we are going to struggle, but I can announce that we as a group have agreed to start the fund off with £22,000 which is quite a kick start.”

Swanage and Wareham Rugby Club in Wareham hosts regular Dementia Friendly Purbeck meetings

“Best job in the world!”

Admiral nurses help people living with dementia to stay independent for longer and to support the people who care for them so that they have the strength to cope with bad days and the energy to enjoy good days.

Rachel Murray, Purbeck’s first Admiral nurse, said:

“The energy shown by Dementia Friendly Purbeck is sadly not reflected in every community – the only reason I am here is because the local community identified a need to improve dementia care and had the drive to make it happen.

“Families are in situations that they cannot make sense of, where crises happen on a daily basis and I am so happy to be able to link them up with the right people, the right services to support them – it is the best job in the world!

“This role is all about collaboration and working together. We set up a meeting centre at Wareham Hospital which worked really well until we had Covid – but then the Swans Rugby Club very kindly provided their premises for us to use for free. That was incredible, and it doesn’t happen everywhere – we are really lucky in Purbeck to have such a supportive community.

“Age UK, which helps people adapt and adjust to the changes that dementia brings, works brilliantly with us and is open to looking at ways of improving, reaching more people, helping people to live with dementia rather than just surviving with it.

“I frequently work with student nurses, new social workers, occupational therapists, physiotherapists and they cannot understand why this model is only in Purbeck, why it is not repeated across the country. Extending the support will give a great opportunity for us to shout from the rooftops what Dementia Friendly Purbeck has achieved as a community.”

Rachel Johnson of Dementia UK

Rachel Johnson of Dementia UK

“We can do it again”

Dementia can be devastating for whole families who are often left to cope alone, taking on caring responsibilities that push them to their physical, emotional, and financial limits.

Admiral nurses help when people need them most but are not available in all communities.

Rachel Johnson of Dementia UK, said:

“There are only 460 Admiral nurses across the whole of the UK, which is nowhere near enough and Rachel is the only one working in the community in the whole of Dorset, While Dementia UK and NHS Dorset work together to support the community, the drive to provide a nurse for Purbeck came from the community itself.

“Eight or nine years ago, £150,000 was raised in a phenomenally short space of time and Dementia UK holds Dementia Friendly Purbeck in such high esteem.

“The model we have here in Purbeck is special, I don’t know of anywhere else where we have such fantastic collaboration between the community, the NHS and Dorset Healthcare, charities and Dementia UK.

“I have every faith that, just as Purbeck has achieved this once, we can do it again and bring some much needed additional support to what Rachel is already doing here.”

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