First ever UK Macmillan dementia nurse specialist for The Christie

Press Release Posted 12 January 2015

The Christie NHS Foundation Trust, in partnership with Macmillan Cancer Support, has created the first ever Macmillan dementia nurse consultant role in the UK.

Lorraine Burgess, 58, from Heaton Mersey, has a career that spans over 40 years working in dementia care and was this year's recipient of the Nursing Times Nurse of the Year.

Lorraine will take on the challenging role that will see half her time spent working beside cancer specialists in The Christie to support them in working with patients with dementia and cancer; while also offering support to patients with dementia and cancer, or carers with cancer, caring for people with dementia.

The second half of her role will be working in the community with health professionals in complex palliative cases involving dementia and cancer. Dementia education will pay a large part in both settings.

The combination of an aging population and better survival rates for cancer have both contributed to cancer specialists treating an increasing number of patients with cancer and dementia.

Evidence has found that patients with cancer and dementia are more likely to be diagnosed at later stages because of poor symptom recognition, this results in a higher mortality rate than cancer patients without dementia.

However, survival can continue for many years with the right support, education and care for practitioners, patients and carers.

Lorraine is passionate about the possibilities ofthis ground-breaking role, she says: "This is a unique role and one that is essential. We're seeing more and more dementia in cancer cases as older people are living longer and support and understanding is crucial".

"Having been brought up by my grandparents I have huge admiration for older people and throughout my professional and personal life have been inspired by their courage, attitude and values.

"My role is about ensuring a better quality of life for people dealing with cancer and dementia, whether that is patients or carers."

The Christie is the only oncology hospital in the UK to have a dementia team and The Christie part-funds Lorraine's post, with Macmillan Cancer Support funding the other half. The team works with patients and their carers living with cancer and dementia to ensure they are supported throughout their cancer journey to promote their physical and mental well-being.

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