Profile: The Dementia Nurse

Trained to spot stress in carers, nurses offer help to the families of people affected by dementia

"In my experience, carers of people with dementia spend an awful lot of time feeling guilty about getting irritable with their loved ones or being somehow less than perfect around them.


"But dementia doesn't come with a handbook and until someone close to you has it, you really don't know how you are going to react."

Paulette Winchester-Joseph is an Admiral Nurse team leader in Barking and Dagenham, where her primary role is to offer help and support to the families of people living with dementia and help them to access the various services they need.

Although her role is primarily clinical, she has a wide-ranging brief that can become very hands-on.

"One of my clients stopped taking her husband to his day care centre recently because after several weeks of refusing to be washed, people started to comment about the smell and she felt not only embarrassed but guilty about not looking after him properly.

"After a couple of hours of persuasion, he finally agreed to get into the bath, and the sessions that are so vital to both of them were restored.

"That wouldn't be a typical day for me, but sometimes, you simply have to roll your sleeves up," she adds.

One of only 75 Admiral Nurses in the UK, all of whom are trained in mental health issues, Paulette is on hand to spot signs of depression or stress in carers, as well as make sure that those with dementia receive the best possible care.

"With more than 70 cases between us, my colleague and I don't get to see our clients every week, but over the months and many cups of tea, we have struck up enough of a relationship with the family to know when a carer is at breaking point.

"Being a dispassionate observer rather than a close family member, I can gently initiate a conversation on respite care or even suggest looking into a long-term residential place without anyone feeling awkward."

While she stresses that clients "would never be bullied" into taking such a big step, she believes that nurses can have an important role in saying sensitively that residential care can sometimes be the best option.

Working as a specialist dementia nurse based within the NHS, Winchester-Joseph is also able to offer practical advice to other hospital staff at the local trust.

"Nurses on the ward can get worried when dementia patients are unable to eat, but I reassure them that it is usually simply that the swallowing reflex has disappeared.

"Giving advice on food presentation to ward nurses, while also recognising that dementia patients are adults and must still be allowed to make choices, is all part of the service."

While dementia is most associated with the elderly, Admiral Nurses also encounter far younger patients living with the condition.

"A diagnosis of dementia when you are 37 and the mother of young children - as a recent case of mine was - is devastating," she adds. "But by getting to know the family and understanding how they tick, we can offer valuable support and guidance when they need it most."

Suggested Topics
News
Pro-Russia rebels guard a train containing the bodies of victims of the Malaysia Airlines flight MH 17 crash in Torez, Ukraine
i100
Life and Style
Child's play: letting young people roam outdoors directly contradicts the current climate
lifeHow much independence should children have?
Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book
booksFind out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Arts and Entertainment
<p><strong>2008</strong></p>
<p>Troubled actor Robert Downey Jr cements his comeback from drug problems by bagging the lead role in Iron Man. Two further films follow</p>
filmRobert Downey Jr named Hollywood's highest paid actor for second year running
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Property
Sign here, please: Magna Carta Island
propertyYours for a cool £4m
News
people
News
The Commonwealth flag flies outside Westminster Abbey in central London
news
Arts and Entertainment
Struggling actors who scrape a living working in repertory theatres should get paid a 'living wage', Sir Ian McKellen has claimed
theatre
News
Skye McCole Bartusiak's mother said she didn't use drink or drugs
peopleActress was known for role in Mel Gibson film The Patriot
Arts and Entertainment
tvWebsite will allow you to watch all 522 shows on-demand
Arts and Entertainment
filmThe Rock to play DC character in superhero film
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Damon Albarn is starting work on a new West End musical
artsStar's 'leftfield experimental opera' is turning mainstream
Life and Style
Paul and his father
artsPaul Carter wants to play his own father in the film of his memoirs
Sport
Ben Stokes trudges off after his latest batting failure for England as Ishant Sharma celebrates one of his seven wickets
cricket
Arts and Entertainment
Members of the public are invited to submit their 'sexcapades' to Russell T Davies' new series Tofu
tv
News
Sky's Colin Brazier rummages through an MH17 victim's belongings live on air
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game
arts + ents'The Imitation Game' stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

History Teacher

£110 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: We are seeking a teacher o...

IT Teacher

£110 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: We are seeking a suitably ...

SEN Teacher

£110 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: We are urgently seeking a ...

Nursery Teacher - Grimsby

£90 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Job opportunity for Nursery Suppl...

Day In a Page

Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn
Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Meet the man who doesn't want to go down in history as the country's last Scottish Secretary
Legoland Windsor's master model-makers reveal the tricks of their trade (including how to stop the kids wrecking your Eiffel Tower)

Meet the people who play with Lego for a living

They are the master builders: Lego's crack team of model-makers, who have just glued down the last of 650,000 bricks as they recreate Paris in Windsor. Susie Mesure goes behind the scenes
The 20 best days out for the summer holidays: From Spitfires to summer ferry sailings

20 best days out for the summer holidays

From summer ferry sailings in Tyne and Wear and adventure days at Bear Grylls Survival Academy to Spitfires at the Imperial War Museum Duxford and bog-snorkelling at the World Alternative Games...
Open-air theatres: If all the world is a stage, then everyone gets in on the act

All the wood’s a stage

Open-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Rand Paul is a Republican with an eye on the world

Rupert Cornwell: A Republican with an eye on the world

Rand Paul is laying out his presidential stall by taking on his party's disastrous record on foreign policy
Self-preservation society: Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish

Self-preservation society

Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish
Generation gap opens a career sinkhole

Britons live ever longer, but still society persists in glorifying youth

We are living longer but considered 'past it' younger, the reshuffle suggests. There may be trouble ahead, says DJ Taylor