Families living with dementia in central Bradford are being helped to live more positively and face the challenges of tomorrow with more confidence and less fear, thanks to a collaboration between Dementia UK and the recently formed Proactive Care Team (PACT), led by Bradford District Care NHS Foundation Trust.

Dementia UK is the only charity dedicated to supporting whole families affected by dementia through dementia specialist Admiral Nurses. The nurses work alongside families giving compassionate one-to-one support, expert guidance and practical solutions that can be difficult to find elsewhere. They provide a real lifeline and are already making a difference in Bradford.

Garry and Ken Biggin

Garry Biggin and his dad Ken Biggin looking forward to a visit from the Proactive Care Team’s Admiral Nurses.

“All areas should have Admiral Nurses, Bradford must be quite forward thinking,” says Garry Biggin who cares for his father Ken Biggin from Bierley.

“Nothing was too much trouble to help and assist Dad during these extremely difficult COVID-19 circumstances. The understanding, taking time to listen to, acknowledge and confirm Dad’s requirements to help myself and his carers meet Dad’s needs has been brilliant.”

With life expectancy in central Bradford nine years less than average for women and 11 years less than average for men, the Proactive Care Team (PACT) was formed in September 2020 as part of the Reducing Inequalities in Communities (RIC) programme.

PACT is active in three areas of central Bradford, working with existing mental health, primary care and community services to enhance the range of support available for vulnerable, frail adults to help them live well.

As well as Admiral Nurses, the Proactive Care Team offers a range of services including physiotherapy, psychological support, speech and language therapy, dietary advice and occupational therapy, bringing in staff with different skills as required. When people are referred to the team, they find out the immediate needs and priorities of the individual, then provide a range of support in a timely manner, working in collaboration with other local organisations where required.

PACT team manager Sue Butters explains: “We’re generally called in where someone has a number of conditions affecting their physical or mental health. This means they can have care provided by several organisations and it can sometimes get complicated and confusing for them.

“Once someone has been referred to us, they have just one assessment, usually whilst they are at home. We then address their concerns and tailor support to meet their specific needs. This can make a real difference to someone with complex needs, especially if they are frail and living with a debilitating condition.”

Katie Dixon leads the Admiral Nurse team within PACT. She said: “Although there are a relatively small number of people currently diagnosed with dementia in Bradford City, this number is predicted to increase.

“By working within PACT, our Admiral Nurses can ensure that people living with dementia and their carers receive the right care and support, in the right place at the right time.  The Admiral Nurses also provide education, leadership, development and support to other colleagues and service providers in order to improve the overall care offered to these individuals.”

Paul Edwards, Director of Clinical Services at Dementia UK said: “Families with dementia each have unique challenges. At Dementia UK, we know that certain demographics continue to under-access dementia care through lack of tailored services.

“This new service of dementia specialist Admiral Nurses established in collaboration with Bradford District Care NHS Foundation Trust will help to address this in inner-city Bradford. It will enable more families with dementia to access specialist care. Our Admiral Nurses are already playing a key role in helping families identify their varying needs, rights and wishes, as well as supporting health and social care professionals to build up more inclusive dementia care.”

Mr Biggin has been delighted with the support he and his dad have received. “It used to be very difficult. Different departments didn’t speak to each other and you had to deal with lots of people.

“Now we know we have everything we need, and if we need anything else, we just ring you and you will sort it. We look forward to your visits, I do anyway. Dad does too, his eyes light up when I tell him you are coming and he does remember you. We’re in safe hands now. Everyone has been brilliant.”

Further information about the work of the Proactive Care Team, including who they are able to support, the areas of central Bradford in which they operate and how to obtain a referral, please visit the Proactive Care Team webpage.