Background: This study aimed to evaluate outcomes for carers receiving the Admiral Nurse Service, a specialist mental health nursing service for carers of people with dementia. In contrast to many community mental health teams, it works primarily with the caregiver, focuses exclusively on dementia and offers continuing involvement, throughout the caregiving career, including emotional support, provision of information and coordination of practical support.
Method: 104 carers of people with dementia who were interviewed as soon as possible after being referred to a number of Admiral Nurse (AN) services or conventional services in neighbouring areas, and who were re-interviewed eight months later, form the sample (43 AN; 61 comparison).
Results: There were no significant differences between groups, controlling for initial score, on the primary outcome measure at follow-up, the 28-item General Health Questionnaire (GHQ) or its sub-scales, apart from anxiety and insomnia, where outcome was better for the AN group (p = 0.038). Follow-up GHQ scores were associated with ratings of past and current relationship quality. There were no differences in survival in the community between the groups.
Conclusion: Both conventional and AN services are associated with lower distress scores over an eight-month period. Outcome for people with dementia (in terms of institutional placement) is no worse in the AN group, despite the carer focus. Some support is provided for a model of dementia-specialist service which engages with the caregiver and continues involvement for as long as is required, rather than simply carrying out an assessment and referring the person back to social services or primary care. Copyright © 2003 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.