• What a day! – What a Daydream! 29 July 2016 | View comments

  • 25th July 2016 | By David Jolley

     

    Last Tuesday was THE hottest day.

     

    Steve and I travelled the lanes from Altrincham to Wilmslow to catch the train to London.  Temperatures there were predicted to rise above 30 degrees C.

     

    We were to attend Dementia Pathfinders’ celebration of what is going on, at the Hallam St Conference Centre. This is not far from Euston, so a walk is the best way there. Lunch at the Royal College of GPs – convenient, cool, quality and dignity with a modern twist – just the right mood.

     

    Starting with a hug from Sandra – this was to be a great afternoon. We met our colleagues from the Isle of Wight – Veronica and Vidya – it was they who, with Barbara, had begun the Dementia Conversations movement which we have followed and hope to see adopted in lots of other places. Strange how at ease you can feel with people of similar spirit, even though you are meeting for the first time. Veronica just twinkles openness and honesty in pursuit of truth. No fudges.

     

    Participants were skewed to female and youth – well, younger, and looking and moving with confidence and grace. These were people gathered together by Barbara, with a message and delivered with bubbles.

     

    The strength in this initiative lies in the real personal experiences of the main players, and their determination to harness these with their many skills and talents to make things better:

    We heard of love tested and not found wanting by dementia, which came too early. On reflection it does seem that Early Onset Dementia is something different – as Mr Alzheimer would agree,

    We were reminded of Margaret Butterworth and all she stood for http://www.kcl.ac.uk/sspp/policy-institute/scwru/events/mbchf/About-Margaret-Butterworth.aspx

     

    It was moving to hear the accounts of generous, dedicated care being provided by three modest front-line staff who were in receipt of rewards. They are valued in this – but how far is their value reflected in the status and financial recognition given to them in the routine weeks?

     

    Tina English is encouraging faith communities to use their strengths and memberships to take love and support to older people without visitors in care homes – a winner with minimal extra resources.

     

    Then there was dance – dance in several formats and then broken down to its basic elements so that we could follow and join – and soon Steve was dancing with Veronica – They were both surprised and very pleased.

     

    Music and movement – making magical communications where dementia had seemed to fragment all meaning and understanding.

     

    Dementia Pathfinders is stepping aside from the mainstream – not to deny its strengths, but to add some alternatives, which relate to individuals, to special places, to special individual strengths, shining through the difficulties.

     

    And then there were quiet conversations after the main event – or maybe this was the main event – for we discovered extraordinary connectivity, some based in unsuspected historical and geographical links.

     

    There is something special happening – it was a very warm day – a melting pot of possibilities.

    We will see what we can make of them.

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