Honiton Dementia Action Alliance seeks to improve the lives of families living with dementia by raising awareness in our local community and supporting dementia friendly activities such as the nostalgic cinema, pub lunch club, and ambling group.

However great these supportive informal networks are, we know that the real challenges are faced at home on a daily basis.

There are about 200 people living in the Honiton area with a diagnosis of dementia and as those who are living with dementia know, it does not just affect one person but touches the whole family.

In 2017, we worked in partnership with Dementia UK, a national charity which provides specialist dementia support for families through their Admiral Nurse service, in order to bring an Admiral Nurse to Honiton.  Admiral Nurses were named by the family of Joseph Levy CBE BEM, who founded the charity. Joseph had vascular dementia and was known affectionately as “Admiral Joe” because of his love of sailing.  Admiral Nurses provide the specialist dementia support that families need. When things get challenging or difficult, Admiral Nurses work alongside people with dementia, their families and carers: giving them one-to-one support, expert guidance and practical solutions.

By the summer of 2018, our fantastic community, bolstered by a very generous donation from the Honiton Hospital League of Friends, had raised the £150,000 needed to fund an Admiral Nurse for three years.

Our Admiral Nurse is a registered general nurse, with a depth of experience in caring for people with dementia and their carers, and she started in post in February 2019.  She is employed by the Royal Devon & Exeter NHS Foundation Trust and is co-located within the integrated Health and Social Care Team, based at Honiton Hospital.  Being based at the heart of the community means that the Admiral Nurse can join up health and social care services for families and work in partnership with others to provide vital wrap-around support to help families cope with the complexities that each day brings.

The Admiral Nurse, Fay Valentine, can be contacted on fay.valentine@nhs.net or 07754746796.  However, in order to access the support of the Admiral Nurse, carers will need to ask their GP or a member of the Health and Social Care Team to make a formal referral to the service.  To be eligible, the person with dementia or their carer needs to be registered with the Honiton Surgery.

Fay also attends the Honiton Memory Café and the Honiton Carers group on a monthly basis for more informal chats with anyone affected by dementia in the Honiton and surrounding area.

This vital support would not have been possible without the help of a weekly column in our local newspaper the Midweek Herald and our local community who has taken this cause to their hearts and minds and we have heard many examples of the different ways and reasons people have donated.

Kicked off by our local barber Alan Rowe we went on to receive donations from kind individuals and groups like the Honiton Lions, Awliscombe and Weston Village and the Honiton Ladies Golf team. The Beehive Community Centre donated the proceeds from a wonderful evening of Flanders and Swann songs and many of you supported collections we had at Honiton Leisure Centre and Honiton Tesco and the Mega Christmas Raffle organised by Graham and Sue Smith.

We would like to thank each and every one of you who have supported us so far.

This is an ongoing fundraising venture and we believe that everyone who needs the support of a specialist dementia nurse should get one and that is why we continue to need your help to sustain this essential service.

For details on how to get involved you can contact us on 07966 135442 or email info@honitondaa.org.uk.

Donations can be made online through www.justgiving.com/honitonadmiralnurse and cheques sent to me made payable to “Honiton Admiral Nurse” For information about Dementia UK visit www.dementiauk.org

Heather Penwarden BEM Chairman Honiton DAA January 2020