The difference the Admiral Nurse Dementia Helpline makes

Annika Howard
Helplines Partnership - Helpline of the Year 2019 - Admiral Dementia Care Helpline

The Admiral Nurse Dementia Helpline won the coveted Helpline of the Year award at 2019’s Helpline Awards.

In this guest blog, Caroline Woodcock, Admiral Nurse on the Helpline, talks about how it improves the lives of people with dementia as well as striving to better support families.

Dementia specialist nurses

The Admiral Nurse Helpline offers support from dementia specialist nurses like myself, to people who are caring for someone living with dementia, including family, friends and professionals, as well as those living with dementia themselves.

Our Service Evaluation team have compiled an annual report giving figures on the number of calls to our Helpline as well as feedback from carers, covering the period from December 2017-November 2018.

Growing demand

There were 45,584 calls made to the Helpline (a 25% increase in calls compared with the previous year): 40,340 of these were made on weekdays and 5,244 at weekends.

Information taken from our database shows that 17,016 contacts were recorded - 16,817 contacts were categorised as new or re-opened cases, an increase of 38% on the previous year. Of these 29% were people who had contacted us on the Helpline previously. This shows that a large number of people contact our Helpline more than once.

Who is seeking support

There were 14,579 contacts from carers, 1183 from professionals and 752 categorised as ‘other’ (for example a family member or friend who does not identify themselves as a carer). There were also 502 contacts from people living with dementia.

Our figures show that 67% of carers contacting the Helpline were the daughter or son. Where recorded, 25% of the people we are being contacted about have vascular dementia and 23% have Alzheimer’s.

We received contacts relating to 125 people recorded as having young onset dementia – dementia diagnosed when the person is under 65 years old – and 12% of recorded contacts were about people who did not have a formal diagnosis.

Where calls are coming from

As well as recording who contacts the Helpline, we are also able to record where calls are coming from - 16,807 (99%) came from the UK and 203 from 29 other countries, including Australia, USA and Virgin Islands and Spain.

When we look at which counties calls from within the UK come from, the most common counties recorded are London, followed by Kent, West Midlands and West Yorkshire.

How people contact the Helpline

Most people contacted us by telephone (72%), 25% emailed and 2% contacted us through the Dementia UK website.

Reasons for seeking support

The most common reasons recorded for contacting our Helpline are: ‘Wanting an Admiral Nurse’ (4475), ‘General information’ about dementia (3918), ‘Accessing support’ (3886) and support around ‘behaviour’ (3573).

Caller experience

The second part of the report looked at information gathered from our Carers’ Experience Survey – 158 carers completed the survey, response rate to each question varied.

Carers were asked how helpful we were at providing certain things: 100% stated that we were helpful in sharing information and explaining the impact of dementia, 97% felt we were helpful in responding to changes in behaviour and 94% felt we were helpful in providing emotional support.

We asked carers whether contact with the Helpline had made a difference in areas of their life.

Most carers felt that contact with the Helpline made a positive difference to their ability to take better care of the person they look after (91%), their ability to make important decisions about the care of the person they look after (92%) and their confidence in their ability to cope (89%).

When we asked carers what they would have done without the support of an Admiral Nurse: 59% stated they would have struggled on their own, with 19% stating they would have seen their GP for the needs of the person they look after.

There were many positive comments regarding the support we have been able to provide.

Carers described us as helpful, understanding, knowledgeable and good at listening. 96% were extremely likely or likely to recommend the Helpline to others.

Following contact with the Helpline we are able to offer a follow-up email or letter along with leaflets: 99% of those who received these said they found this helpful.

Knowledge, empathy and understanding

We also asked carers how our Helpline is different from other sources of support.

The three main attributes most frequently mentioned as being different were our specialist dementia knowledge, ability to listen and empathy, compassion and understanding.

In conclusion, the report shows that during the period from December 2017-November 2018 there was an increasing demand for the Admiral Nurse Dementia Helpline service, and the feedback from people contacting us demonstrates the positive difference we have made.

The Helpline is open seven days a week, Monday-Friday 9am-9pm and Saturday-Sunday 9am-5pm.

People can contact the Helpline either by phone (0800 888 6678) or email.

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