• Close to the earth 11 April 2016 | View comments

  • 11th April 2016 | By David Jolley

    Retirement from clinical practice was designed to free more time with home and family. So it is proving but there are growths which I had not predicted. These include deeper appreciation of John Leigh Park: http://roundhoundcouk.ipage.com/index.html

    We have a grant to erect a chestnut paling fence around the garden of the bowling green: the grant money gives us the palings, stakes (need some more because my sums were embarrassingly wrong!), stretchers and struts. You can see the technicalities. Putting the fence in place requires effort and some expertise from our volunteer group. We are about one third of the way round the 600 feet so far – and the result is quite as thrilling as anything I have ever done.

    Being there and being identifiable as ‘parkies’ meant that mums alarmed by the presence of bees in the playground:

    ‘Bees in the Playground’ – rekindling memories of Dog in the Playground http://poetry.clusterup.com/poems/dog-in-the-playground-837. Many happy bedtime readings.

    Bees in the playground – with help from experts in Trafford - were recognised to be Tawny Mining Bees https://www.buglife.org.uk/bugs-and-habitats/tawny-mining-bee which are harmless and charming. Reassurances to mums and a notice made up to inform others who might be unsure.

    All this in the open air and within five minutes’ walk of home.

    Opening the box labelled ‘Dementia Conversations’ at Bowdon Vale means finding out more about services in Trafford – This is where we live and have lived for over 30 years but though I have worked in Manchester – South, Central and North, Salford and Tameside – I have not worked in Trafford. It is a new world. With a little help from friends I will get to know it better.

    In amongst rummage I found references to the dementia component of the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Devolution – or ‘Dementia United’.

    I am puzzled and taken aback by some of the statements and aspirations:

    ‘Greater Manchester currently spends £221m per year on dementia across health and social care. If we diagnosed everyone on GM who we think currently has the disease this would raise to £320m per year. From these data we can estimate that the predicted cost to the taxpayer for health and social care currently provided for people with dementia across Greater Manchester will be £376.7m per year by 2021.

    Surely the logical response is to stop doing it – all it does is increase costs.

    ‘Develop a measure for Greater Manchester of the lived experience which can be tracked over the 5 year period and used to inform the effectiveness of changes.’

    A unitary measure of lived experience for people of either gender, age band, social settings, race, faith, previous complex personal experiences over many years! This will take some doing. Emperors and suits of clothes come often to mind and here is another instance.

    ‘Every person living with dementia will have access to a key worker 24 hours per day, 7 days per week who will support them to live well with dementia.' 

    'Every person living with dementia will co-produce a package of support and care which meets their needs and wants which is reviewed and updated at least once per year’.

    During the time I was a trainee with Tom Arie he was approached by a Public Health colleague who wanted us to extend the pioneering Goodmayes service to include everyone who might have dementia, depression or other mental health problems. The wise man said:

    ‘Let us do what we know how to do for those people whose needs become declared. This is a realistic ambition’.

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