• Hospice and Hospital 11 January 2016 | View comments

  • I have been privileged to work with Dr Michael Tapley, Ann Regan and other colleagues at Willow Wood Hospice, Ashton under Lyne since summer 2010. We have developed a specialist service to help people with dementia as they approach the end of their lives using the model pioneered by Dr Victor Pace, Sharon Scott and others at St Christopher’s Hospice. In doing this we have come to work very closely with colleagues in other sectors who are caring for people with dementia and their families. This led us to establish an informal tea time network event which meets once every two months at the hospice.

    Tapley M, Regan A and Jolley D (2015) A UK hospice plays host to a local network of people involved in dementia care. European Journal of Palliative Care 22 (4) 165 – 168

    This week the session was led by Pam Kehoe who is an Admiral Nurse and has the Dementia Lead within Tameside’s General Hospital. This is a massive responsibility and one which draws upon all Pam’s experience and personal qualities. She was sharing the story of Dr John Gerrard who suffered greatly when admitted to his local general hospital. This so motivated his daughter Nicci that she has established John’s Campaign: www.johnscampaign.org.uk/

    This asks that when adults, including older people, disabled by dementia or similar conditions are admitted to hospital, their carers be allowed to stay with them and contribute to their care and treatment. The campaign asks that the families of older people are granted the same respect and privileges as the families of children in hospital. It is well established that children are more likely to make good recoveries and progress when properly supported – and the same is true for older people with disabling conditions.

    Not rocket science – but it took an individual tragedy and an able and motivated family to make the point and begin to get things done.

    Pam has support at Tameside’s Hospital for the campaign and its requirements to become active there. Over 200 hospitals around the country have signed up – Is your hospital one of them? – brilliant if they are – best tell the Chief Executive about it if they are not.

    Lots of other simple but effective ideas were exchanged. A lady from Public Health (Public Health is doing wonders for people with dementia in Tameside) gave me a Twiddle Muff – I am ashamed to say I did not know about Twiddle Muffs – I do now – and they are being used to good effect to calm the anxieties of ladies in Ashton under Lyne.


    Now muffs might be used by men too – but there is the alternative (for either gender) of a Twiddle Box – or some such bit of kit which has knobs and hinges holes and corners, maybe a drawer or two. There are versions which can be purchased – but the charismatic Pam was moved and astonished when men from the Estates Department came along and proudly presented her with 20 boxes they have produced for use in the Hospital. She had not asked – but they had heard the story and seen the effectiveness of the muffs (which are being knitted by knitting clubs all around Ashton!). They could see an opportunity to use their skills – hey presto!


    So the Hospice is a safe place within the spectrum of services for people with dementia.

    Meeting informally over tea and cake encourages friendships and generates and shares ideas. Nothing here costs a lot – but the outcomes are priceless.

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    julia jones Created on 12/01/2016 19:45

    What a lovely article -- as the co-founder of John's Campaign I thank you so much. Nicci would say the same -- its the good will of people like yourselves and the knowledge and compassion of nurses like Pam Kehoe that are going to change attitudes towards people with dementia all over the country.

    David Jolley Created on 17/01/2016 06:26

    Thanks Julia - you are amongst the heroes who point the way and help us prepare the paths to follow. The realisation that general hospitals fail the whole person and their family if they think only of one organ at a time would seem to be obvious. It is a surprising hard sell still
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