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  • 4th November 2015 | By David Jolley

    Could it really be ten years since the launch at Bournemouth? Sue Benson is unchanged as Mary Poppins, Richard Hawkins is steady as a star to steer by. Every year brings new ideas, new hope and new revelations. By the end of this first morning I was full and pleased to know I must use all this.
    The drive down from Altrincham via the M6 and M54 was good preparation. Although I know Wolverhampton like the back of my hand, I have never known Telford so was a little fearful of how to get there and what I would find. Traffic flowed well. Signs were there as advertised and a friendly man in yellow corrected my last gasp diversion from the true line. Easy parking. Light rain and mist set this as an autumn adventure
    The Early Bird blew me away – I knew the Tameside presentation from Ursula Humphreys – a Public Health doctor leading a surge on Arts for Dementia – would be magical. It is my privilege to be near to Ursula and her transforming crew via involvement with Willow Wood Hospice and our regular Dementia Network meetings. But Mosely Hall Hospital matched that with its exploration of Life Story and the production of a play based in true stories, mixed with a composition of a couple reflecting on life: ‘All of me’. 500mpeople came to see it and 500 people loved it.
    But more even than these I was carried to new understanding and new determination by Veronica Franklin Gould: Music Reawakening: http://www.arts4dementia.org.uk/reawakening-the-mind-report Did she sing it? She did not – but her presentation had the lifting power of music, blowing away any irritating thoughts of red tape and burdensome routines: here is how life is taken to new heights – for mere mortals with or without dementia. We must share this as the very best of gifts to those in need and those whose lives will be richer for it
    Overwhelmed/Gone by 9.30am!
    Disappointment then that the Parliamentary Undersecretary of State for Public Health was required to stay to vote in Westminster and could only offer a pre-recorded rehearsal of statistical claims of achievement. Unlike her predecessor Norman Lamb she would not see or hear the exquisite contributions from people with dementia and from carers:
     ‘Going to the memory clinic was awful – the consultant did not stay to give me the diagnosis or to explain the condition. His fist communication to me as he passed me on his way out, was to say ‘You should get on and write a will now while you can’.
    Or – ‘It took weeks of tests and examinations – then this lady doctor who I had not seen before simply said: ‘You’ve got Alzheimer’s disease. I will write a prescription and we will see you in six months’ time’
    So much for making the diagnosis well!
    ‘I have dementia. I don’t suffer from it’
    ‘We need more hospices’
    ‘I can keep to the script with the help of my Ipad - Without its direction I stray to other things such as ‘Strictly’
    ‘The Occupational Therapist was wrong footed – She had never met someone with dementia still in full time employment’
    Let us hope that Jane Ellison knows a bit of what she was missing from that plenary session.
    People are asked to send her short statements: ‘The Minister should know…………….’ The Alzheimer’s society will forward them
    There is more to say about this wonderful day

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