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  • Cuckoo? 12 November 2018 | Comments (0)

    12th November 2018 | By David Jolley

    Emile Rateband has made a point for those of us sensitive to Ageism – He has raised a few chuckles by applying to court in Arnhem to change his official date of birth from March 1949 to March 1969. His claim is based on feeling younger than his chronological years – compounded by the disadvantages associated with being labelled old. One disadvantage cited is lack of interest from dating agencies. In itself this speaks of a characteristic of life amongst older people which may be a surprise to many.

    The comparison with changes in the law which allow legal re-designation of gender may be clumsy and perhaps offensive. The proposition that a date of birth be altered is preposterous. Maybe an alternative might be to advertise someone’s expected healthy life years remaining. Best of all is to accept age, but to counter the prejudice and ignorance that stigmatises people who are different. Now if Emile will learn to say: ‘I am pleased to be old. I have seen a great deal and learned so much. I have met wonderful people and received and given help and affection. Maybe I could have done more in these first 69 years – but there is time enough to do more.’ That will be a better resolution and an example to be followed.

    This week of remembrance, celebration of the end of The Great War, is a time when older people are feted by the media for their stories and memories of times past. Poppies are such a wonderful phenomenon – blood red and sprouting from the earth when it has been disturbed – by shells, or boots or road builders. Poppies all around a present – many made in tribute will last longer than the living flowers. The coming and the fading are their essence: ‘The flowers of the fields.’ Beyond capture.

    I have missed being at the Dementia Congress at Brighton. I hope people will let me know what happened there.

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    Small talk 12 November 2018 | Comments (0)

    5th November 2018 | By David Jolley

    I am grateful to Hannah Jane Parkinson for her first article in the Guardian Saturday Colour Supplement 27.10.18.

    Mostly I scan the colour supplement for pictures, and read only the ‘Let’s move to’ story. Last week it was Worcester, this week Wimborne Minster. I hope that one week it will be Wolverhampton’s turn.

    I think it was the header ‘The joy of small things’ which caught my eye. I am keen on joy, and small things. But she drew me to look at J.B. Priestley and his book of essays: ‘Delight’. J. B. Priestley is a name I have known but never known much of. Now I find him to be of my grandfathers’ generation, Yorkshire (Bradford) born, taking a local clerical job from school but then studying at Cambridge after time with the armed forces during World War 1. It is sobering to know that something good followed from that dreadful conflict. He became a celebrated author, essayist and playwright. Celebrated too as a curmudgeon, he would say. He countered this infamy with a collection of essays about those small things which gave him quiet delight – outwardly enjoying his grumble – inside experiencing a private ecstasy.

    It is these smallish personal things which mean most to us, away from the yawning of national and international politics and corporate endeavours. These are the pleasures and values which stay with us in times of happiness and times of trial – deep enough to withstand the erosion which dementia and similar illnesses might bring.
    So far I have read his reflections on fountains (generating a list of fountains I have known), shopping in a small town (well my home town, current market town, markets which are past, and favourite holiday places), detective stories in bed (not for me – I simply hold tight to a prayer, and flick through the now-and-then of things I might have shelved for the rest of the day. Then sleep.) Finishing a task, a friend’s face or voice in a lonely place, deck in the early morning (never been on a deck but every morning is a good place, the earlier the better), tobacco, gin/tonic and crisps in solitude at his local after a routinely crazy week at work in London, and tobacco again!

    These essays are no more than two pages, perfectly written, and each a delight in itself. I shall carry on reading to one-hundred-and- fourteen. Hannah Jane Parkinson has written this week of dressing gowns. It seems to me that this is an exercise we could use when people come together for an afternoon of conversation, whether or not their memories are becoming stretched by the details of the here and now.

    Thanks to JBP and to HJP

    Best wishes to everyone at the Dementia Congress in Brighton. This is the first I have missed. That’s the thing with the coming of grandchildren

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    29th October 2018 | by David Jolley

    I was outraged by the damage done by mindless legislation which created DoLS (Deprivation and Liberty Safeguards) and progressively changed it by questionable case ruling precedents: Thousands of people lacking capacity but content with the care they were receiving have found themselves subject to certification at massive and useless cost. Any movement to hospital or another care setting requires additional costly assessments and paper work. For many months all deaths for people dying whilst detained under DoLS had to be dealt with by the coroner. Thankfully this last most bizarre twist has been corrected but all the rest of DoLS’ havoc remains quietly, expensively and perplexingly in place.

    It has been a pleasure to make small contributions to the work of the Law Society in its review of DoLS, eventually producing a scholarly but practical report based on their wisdom and knowledge and informed by fieldwork in care situations, formal consultations and further informal discussion with people who are involved (‘stakeholders’). I was impressed by the comprehensive, positive and ingenious recommendations of that report.

    This report was passed to Parliament as it prepared to revise the DoLS legislation.

    I have been aware that there have been further discussions and comments from colleagues and others who would have views; but I have not followed the progress, feeling that as I do not now have direct clinical involvement with services I have become less equipped to have a significant voice. This decision has, no doubt, rescued me from much pain. I have presumed that the clout of the Law Society is such, and respect for their work so secure, that something worthwhile would emerge from the scrummage.

    First twinges of uncertainty came a couple of weeks ago at our Friday meeting where I was told the draft bill would not extend to people (with dementia or other causes of lost capacity) who are not already in care. This week an email from a friend drew my attention to a letter ‘Ministers must rethink how to care for the most vulnerable in society’ to the Times - Red Box October 22nd from Baroness Thornton www.thetimes.co.uk/article/ministers-must-rethink-how-to-care-for-the-most-vulnerable-in-society-g906zt77k In this she drew attention to shortcomings in the current proposal for amendment of the Mental Capacity Act.

    The Law Society had worked hard and thoughtfully to produce an inspirationally well informed, costed and balanced report. This has been butchered and weakened beyond recognition.

    The Law Society had produced a characteristically elegant, but never-the-less forthright briefing for the House of Lords: The Law Society Parliamentary Brief: Mental Capacity (Amendment) Bill 2018. House of Lords Committee Stage September 2018. In this they say:

    • The proposed scheme will weaken safeguards
    • Resource constraints do not justify failing to implement the safeguards recommended by the Law Society fully
    • Getting this wrong now will affect thousands of people for many years
    • Lacking sufficient safeguards, the proposed Bill is not fit for purpose. It requires serious reconsideration and extensive revision
    • The new Bill must include the right of individuals to object and to challenge the arrangement. If the individual is unable to object, there must be an independent review · The wishes and feelings of cared for people must be centre stage
    • The scheme must comply with the principles of the Mental Capacity Act 2005 and the United Nations Convention on the Human Rights of Persons with Disabilities
    • It must ensure that assessments are independent and there is an effective review process
    • The situation of young people (aged 16-17 years) has to be reconsidered

    It is clear that there are many basic flaws in the current draft. The proposal is that the new bill will adopt the name: ‘Liberty Protection Standards’, which is the name suggested by the Law Society. For this to be right, the new bill must clearly comply with the standards which the Law Society has presented in its report and restated in this briefing.

    You look away – and just see what happens!

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    24th October 2018 | By David Jolley

    Somehow we are all so much more visible, and vulnerable, when moving from place to place. Police programs show us how rogues and worse can be identified by a combination of their bad driving and information linked to registration numbers. Those who offend in this one aspect of life are often up to mischief elsewhere too.

    This week both of us travelled by rail on different days to East Anglia – It is an awkward journey which requires travel from West to East and back, and North to South and back. The trains go a long way – too and from the South Coast through London, from West to East coast via Manchester. On both days there were delays because: ‘A person has been hit by a train’ – many miles away, but fusing the system from one end to the other for hours.

    This gives time to reflect on the sadness and desperation which individuals must have felt to end their lives in this way. Suicide rates in the UK, having fallen for some years, have latterly been rising https://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/feb/19/number-of-suicides-uk-increases-2013-male-rate-highest-2001 Such deaths may be related to personal illness and circumstances, but the general increase might well be linked to other measures of chaos within our community in the grip of cuts to basic services and the publication of stories which make these widely known https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/apr/09/rise-in-violent-not-due-to-police-cuts-alone-figures-show.

    Other deaths on the go related to an elderly driver and his wife, driving a caravan the wrong way down a motorway only days after being involved in another accident: https://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/uk-news/elderly-caravan-driver-who-drove-15296155.

    These are dreadful, dreadful events. It is not possible to dismiss them as random and unrelated. We surely should expect changes to our services to return to a safer more civilised state.

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