A day in the life of Sidmouth’s Admiral Nurse

PUBLISHED: 07:00 14 April 2018 | UPDATED: 09:07 17 April 2018

The Memory Cafe celebrate the first year of the Admiral Nurse Heidi Crook. Ref shs 10 18TI 9013. Picture: Terry Ife

The Memory Cafe celebrate the first year of the Admiral Nurse Heidi Crook. Ref shs 10 18TI 9013. Picture: Terry Ife


Heidi Crook was appointed as the Sid Valley’s Admiral Nurse last March. The Resident asked her to share a day in her working life as she helps families affected by dementia in Sid Valley.

Admiral Nurse Heidi Crook with Jean Bridgeman. Ref shs 10 18TI 9019. Picture: Terry IfeAdmiral Nurse Heidi Crook with Jean Bridgeman. Ref shs 10 18TI 9019. Picture: Terry Ife

Heidi Crook was appointed the Sid Valley’s Admiral Nurse last March following a fundraising campaign.

Through the generous donations of the Sidmouth community, The Sid Valley Memory Cafe was able to raise £100,000 to pay for two years of care by the dementia specialist specifically for those living in the valley.

The nurses are trained by Dementia UK and here Heidi explains how she helps families affected by dementia in the Sid Valley.

8am – Working with families affected by dementia means that no two days are the same. I usually start my day in my office at Sidmouth Community Hospital, where I sit alongside Sidmouth’s community teams. This involves checking messages and responding to any emergency messages from the 35 families I currently support. I also use this time to plan the week ahead, reviewing notes of families who I am seeing during the week.

The Memory Cafe's Admiral Nurse Heidi Crook. Ref shs 10 18TI 9026. Picture: Terry IfeThe Memory Cafe's Admiral Nurse Heidi Crook. Ref shs 10 18TI 9026. Picture: Terry Ife

10am – I schedule in one or two visits to families in the morning. I tend to allow an hour or so per visit. Sometimes it’s slightly longer for an initial visit as I like to spend time getting to know the families, and to find out what brought them to where they are now. I am currently supporting a wife who is caring for her husband, living with a moderate dementia. When I met them, they had little support and she was struggling to respond to the ways his behaviour was changing. In particular, she was finding the evenings hard when her husband would become more restless and disorientated. We discuss strategies to reduce his restlessness by keeping him busy in a meaningful way during the day, and ways she can communicate with him during episodes of confusion. I’ve been meeting them regularly, alternating between meeting her alone, and sometimes with him present. This gives her space to talk openly and helps us establish how best she can support her husband. We talk through the emotional challenges of their changing relationship. She now feels as though she is in a better place and is more able to cope. She knows she can call and arrange to see me if things start to feel difficult again.

Noon – It’s time for a quick lunch break now, where I reflect on how the morning’s visits have gone, as well as respond to any more emails or calls. Once a month I attend a memory café to raise awareness of my work in the Sid Valley and to meet people from the local community. I often offer some level of advice or support to people who are unsure of next steps. This can include people who are just coming to terms with a diagnosis, or explaining different medication, or pointing people to other local support services. These are people who just need a small piece of advice to move forward rather than those families who need regular monthly support.

2pm – I then meet with a man whose wife has now sadly passed away with dementia. He needs support with the difficult transition people face when they have been caring for someone with dementia, who has now gone. When I first met him, his wife’s dementia was in the very advanced stages; he was struggling to know who to turn to. We worked together to plan more care and support for his wife so he was able to make some time for himself. As his wife’s condition deteriorated, we also talked about end-of-life care. We discussed what was happening to her and how he would like to see her cared for in the last few weeks of her life. This involved working closely with colleagues from other services in the community, including local care agencies, social care teams, therapy teams and the staff at Hospiscare. Together, we made sure they both had the right support, so she was able to die peacefully at home with him, which is what they both wanted. He was grateful we were able to work together to support this for them both.

4pm– I finish the day back at the office where I reflect on the situations of the families I met throughout the day. This is a good time to type up the case notes, respond to calls and emails, and make any onward referrals for families who need additional help and support, such as a referral via the GP for community mental health team assessment, 
or to social care to assist in setting up a package of care.

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