The Royal British Legion Admiral Nurses, in partnership with Dementia UK, offer specialist support, information and advice to the carers of people living with dementia within the Armed Forces community.
There are 25 Admiral Nurses employed by The Royal British Legion working across the UK to support some of the most complex cases, providing practical, clinical and emotional support to help families face dementia.
The money raised from M&S’s 2018 Poppy Collection will go towards funding The Royal British Legion (RBL) Admiral Nurses. The retailer has partnered with RBL since 2009 and is the exclusive high street seller of the collection, which includes brooches, pins and earrings
Ron and Loraine’s story
Ronald Spiers, 60, was diagnosed with Cadasil syndrome (a rare form of dementia) in 2009. He previously served in the Territory Army and was also a former midfielder for Stoke City Football Club and was coached by World Cup winner Gordon Banks. His wife, Loraine Rivers-Spiers, 60, is not only his partner of over 25 years, but also Ron’s main carer. Both have received support and advice from the Royal British Legion’s Admiral Nurse Service for over two years.
Although diagnosed in 2009, Ron’s symptoms actually began to show from 2007. He began to display erratic and obsessive behaviour that was completely out of character, he was unremorseful for his actions when he became angry and his motivation to perform everyday tasks began to decline.
Over the next few years he suffered severe migraines, depression and his compassion towards loved ones was noticeably becoming more absent. This past year has been especially difficult for Ron as he has been going through the process of ‘early retirement due to ill health’.
This has impacted on him, which in turn has impacted on Loraine emotionally and psychologically. Fortunately, their assigned Legion Admiral Nurse, Helen, has been able to assist with their situation, attending appointments with Ron and Loraine to help Ron’s employer understand the physical and mental effects of his illness, acting as an advocate, as well as providing support during a difficult time.
“It’s been hard to finish work after so many years and adapt to life at home with Loraine now being the one to take care of me and the family. I get frustrated at the fact I have limited motivation to do anything and as a result the effects of this, such as the weight gain, means that it’s had a major impact on family life and how I react to certain situations. Having an Admiral Nurse visit has helped me understand what’s happening, why I act the way I do and has provided advice which has been key in my medical treatment.”
Although Ron is the one with the diagnosis, his dementia has impacted his relationship with his wife greatly. Loraine has had to also come to terms with Ron’s early retirement, cope with his changing personality and see the man she loves lose his compassion, affection and rationalisation. The Admiral Nurse Service for Loraine has helped her to understand the effects of dementia, develop coping mechanisms and, most importantly, talk to someone about how she’s feeling.
As well as caring for Ron, Loraine also works two days a week as her way of gaining some time just for her and she also cares for her two grandchildren who live with them. At times Ron has been disinhibited in what he says to them (no remorse for how it may make someone feel) and there have been many occasions where Loraine has had to comfort their grandchildren due to this.
When Loraine first met Admiral Nurse, Helen, she was experiencing carer stress and anxiety. Although Loraine had knowledge of Ron’s condition, having the information did not help her when dealing with his behaviours. Helen and Loraine worked together and as a result Loraine learnt coping mechanisms, how to avoid confrontation and identifying signs and symptoms which were physical health related rather than dementia condition related.
“I do find myself questioning what behaviour is Ron, what is the depression and what is the dementia, or if he simply at some points is testing and pushing me to my limits. Helen has really helped me to understand how to cope with all the questions I have and support me emotionally. I have my ups and downs and I do wish that I sometimes had a big banner to tell people why Ron acts the way he does – on the outside he looks healthy and normal.
“Helen has allowed me to express myself and this sort of support has been essential in helping me cope with not only Ron’s changing personality but my own. I’ve become angry with the situation and at times reacting with spiteful comments to counteract Ron. However, I’m not alone, Helen has been there at the end of the phone and on visits to help us both and I look forward to her coming, as she’s not only a support for the dementia, but she’s also a great friend.”
About The Royal British Legion Admiral Nurses
- There are 229 Admiral Nurses in the UK, working on some of the most complex cases and providing one-to-one practical, clinical and emotional support to help families face dementia with more confidence and less fear
- Dementia UK continually supports, develops and trains Admiral Nurses, ensuring that families affected by dementia can have someone truly expert and caring by their side
- The Royal British Legion is the biggest employer of Admiral Nurses in the UK with 25 Nurses working across Lancashire, Yorkshire, the Midlands, Hampshire and South Wales
- RBL Admiral Nurses are directly supported by your donations, including money raised through the Poppy Appeal
The Royal British legion and M&S partnership
- M&S are again this year the exclusive high street retailer of the Poppy Collection with all profits donated to the Legion which includes brooches, pins, earrings, lapel pin and cufflinks. Last year alone these products raised over £1m!
- Since 2012, the Poppy Collection® on sale at M&S has raised almost £5m for the Legion. The 2018 range is now available to buy and features the iconic Poppy Colletion® Sparkle Brooch
- Products range from £3.50 – £45 and are available in stores and online on the M&S website