Meet Heidi, The Sid Valley's new Admiral Nurse
PUBLISHED: 07:02 13 March 2017 | UPDATED: 16:15 13 March 2017
Heidi has been appointed to take on the role, which will support those suffering with dementia and their families.
Support for those living with dementia in the Sid Valley has become a reality as Devon’s first Admiral Nurse begins work next week.
Heidi Crook said she is excited and privileged to begin her new job as the area’s dementia specialist, providing expert practical and emotional support.
Her arrival has been welcomed by East Devon’s MP, Dementia UK and the Sid Valley Memory Café, which, in partnership with the Herald, led a £100,000 campaign to secure a nurse for the area.
Heidi, who is originally from Torquay, trained to become a dementia nurse before working in Brighton and the community hospital in Whipton.
The 34-year-old, who lives in Exeter, said: “It’s exciting, quite daunting and it’s a privilege. The local community are so behind it and it’s amazing to see. This last year, they have worked so hard to do this. When you think of the size of the town and the amount of money they have raised, it’s amazing.”
Heidi, who is a keen amateur photographer and traveller, said it was important to have a holistic approach and understand the person needing support.
She added the role of the Admiral Nurse was also important in looking after carers who dedicate themselves to caring for their loved-one.
“They need someone to advocate for them and for the carers,” said Heidi. “I’m so happy to see we are now going to have an Admiral Nurse in Devon. Even if it wasn’t me, I would have thought it was amazing. The people that use it always find it so valuable. It’s that person for carers to go to.”
The Sid Valley Memory Café launched a campaign with the Herald to raise £100,000 to bring an Admiral Nurse to the area in May 2015.
The charity praised the generosity of the community in helping reach the target in just over a year.
Adrian Ford, on behalf of the Admiral Nurse committee, said: “We are sure that our nurse will make a huge difference to so many families here in the Sid Valley, who are living with dementia, and that, with the continuing support of the community, she will become a permanent fixture.”
Heidi will be employed by the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital and work as part of Sidmouth’s community nursing team.
Rachel Johnstone, from Dementia UK, said it was a delight to see first Admiral Nurse in Devon become a reality, adding: “Living with dementia can sometimes be a hard and lonely experience. Admiral Nurses work together with families and other health and social care professionals to provide the one-to-one support, expert guidance and practical solutions they need to live more positively with dementia each and every day.”
East Devon MP Sir Hugo Swire has also welcomed Heidi after helping the campaign reach the attention of former Prime Minister David Cameron.
He said: “‘Given that a quarter of the population in Sidmouth is aged over 75 and people are living longer, dealing with dementia effectively and innovatively is an enormous task. I wish Heidi the very best of luck – I am sure she will make a real difference.
The very fact that we have got to this stage is a great achievement and a reflection on the generosity of the Sid Valley community.”
Duncan Watt, chairman of trustees at the memory café, also thanked the Big Lottery Fund and Sidmouth Town Council for providing funding to secure the nurse for the future.
Mr Watt said: “Our fundraising campaign to continue to employ our Admiral Nurse will shortly re-start, but in future we will be able to point to the direct benefits the community is enjoying and, who knows, if the community responds with the same generosity, we may one day be able to announce our second Admiral Nurse.”