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Considering the career of an admiral nurse

Specialist dementia admiral nurses provide holistic, person-centred support in a wide range of settings. Emily Oliver, a consultant admiral nurse, and Victoria Lyons, a senior consultant admiral nurse, both working for Dementia UK, explain why you might want to join their ranks

What do admiral nurses do?

They specialise in the case management of families who are dealing with the complexities of caring for a person with dementia. They also work collaboratively with other health and social care colleagues who provide different but equally essential support. There are currently 270 admiral nurses in post in the UK. 

Being an admiral nurse is hugely rewarding; they can make a real difference to families struggling with someone who has dementia. They also receive wrap-around support for both professional and practice development from Dementia UK.

When providing direct clinical support to families, admiral nurses complete a bespoke assessment schedule known as the ‘admiral nurse assessment framework’ (see below).

Admiral nurse assessment framework
  • Physical health and wellbeing of the person with dementia 
  •  Mental health and wellbeing of the person with dementia
  •  Physical health and wellbeing of the carer(s)   
  •  Mental health and wellbeing of the carer(s)
  •  Managing medication
  •  Carer’s knowledge and understanding of dementia 
  •  Skills in coping with behaviour/symptoms
  •  Communication and understanding with professionals
  •  Environment
  •  Financial and legal issues
  •  Practical and assistive aids
  •  Practical support
  •  Informal support networks
  •  Adjustment and loss
  •  Balancing needs (carer)
  •  Time for self (carer)
  •  Looking to the future (carer)
  •  Risk

Admiral nurses offer support to families through a range of interventions including talking therapies, anticipatory care planning, case-coordination and much more.

They also provide back-up to other professionals by giving advice, formal training and educational support. And they are involved in the strategic design and development of dementia pathways, as well as audits and other projects that improve dementia care services.

The benefits of the role

Dementia UK is a nurse-led organisation. Chief executive Hilda Hayo is a dual-registered nurse with 38 years of experience developing and leading dementia specialist teams. Our team is made up of senior nurse leaders who have all specialised in dementia.

The benefit of having a nurse-led service is that the families we support are at the centre of everything we do, and our values of holistic, person-centred care are intrinsic to the organisation.

Opportunities for development

Dementia UK offers a wide range of support and regular opportunities for professional and practice development. These include: professional and practice development sessions, masterclasses, a masters-level competency module, an admiral nurse electronic learning platform, a two-day induction to the role, an annual admiral nurse forum, and the opportunity to engage in research and publication.

An autonomous role

Admiral nurses are experienced practitioners who will often set up an admiral nurse service from scratch. Each admiral nurse service is tailored to the setting.

How to become an admiral nurse

Admiral nurses work within a range of settings, from Band 6 to Band 8b. We are looking for nurses who have had extensive experience in the field of dementia and have preferably undertaken postgraduate learning based on dementia care.

Applicants are not required to have a master’s degree. However, they must demonstrate a willingness to work towards a level 7 qualification, as we expect them to undertake the admiral nurse competency framework module within 18 months of being in post.

Ideally, nurses applying would have experience in education and training, and be able to provide examples of working on projects centered on dementia care. Evidence of leadership and autonomous working is also highly desirable.

All admiral nurses must share our values and demonstrate a real desire to improve the lives of people with dementia and their families throughout the disease trajectory.

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