Falmouth woman's push to support dementia sufferers
After losing her father to dementia earlier this year, one Falmouth woman wants to boost the support on offer for those suffering from the illness and their carers.
Lisa Dann helped launch Dementia UK (Cornwall) last Thursday, as a new regional branch of the national charity that promotes Admiral Nursing – a specialist nursing intervention programme focused on meeting the needs of carers and families of people with dementia.
Lisa was working as a nurse at Southampton General Hospital in 2010 when she first learnt of the Admiral Nurses.
Her father Paul Barnicoat, who was a past president of Falmouth Rotary Club and former captain of the Budock Vean Golf Club, had been diagnosed with vascular dementia three years previously and was becoming quite frail.
“Dad was starting to fall and, as happens in so many cases, he broke his hip,” Lisa said, “that was when the journey became a scary rollercoaster ride.”
Lisa’s mum, Shirley – who had been Paul’s sole carer up to this point – was now struggling to cope with his frequent falls, which amounted to 23 in one three week period, alongside a lack of professional support.
“All this culminated in me being given a book and told to find an EMI [Elderly Mentally Infirm] home,” said Lisa, “Not a nice thing for any family member to do.
“I attended some training run by Dementia UK and the Admiral Nurses. Instantly a light went on and I remember thinking ‘wow, a helping hand in the darkness and loneliness.’
“As carers all we ask is that someone listens, cares and helps,” she added.
No Admiral Nurses currently operate in Cornwall and Lisa found herself using their helpline many times to get the advice and support she needed.
She said: “From the day I discovered Admiral Nurses I knew that this was the solution to the loneliness we felt. Someone to listen, to care and to help.
“Nobody should have the journey that we had – mum described it as going through a bereavement without a death.
“We need to care for the patient and family with love and dignity. I relocated to Cornwall 16 months ago and now have the time and energy to devote to securing Admiral Nurses in the county,” she added.
Dementia UK (Cornwall) now aims to raise £60,000 for a dementia “pioneer,” who will work in the county to secure funding for a contingent of Admiral Nurses.
In the meantime, the charity branch wants to raise awareness of Admiral Nursing DIRECT, which is a helpline offering practical advice and emotional support to people affected by dementia.
A fundraising coffee morning and plant sale at Potagers Garden is planned for June 13 between 10am and 12pm and a portion of the proceeds from the Falmouth Rotary Club’s charity golf day on June 24 will also go towards the fledgling group.
For more information on Dementia UK (Cornwall), or for ways to help raise money such as hosting a “rolling lunch,” contact Lisa on 340906 or visit the new website at www.dementiaukcornwall.org.uk