• Where the Wild Things are 14 November 2016 | View comments

  • 14th Novemebr 2016 | By David Jolley

    I have missed a blog and feel badly about that. The days have run one into another and been full. My day at the Dementia Congress and the trip to Brighton told a story. First train was late to Altrincham but got us to Stockport with one minute to spare. I had a booked window seat beside the window. A beautiful day and time to watch the autumn going by, read the paper and just be sure of the things I should be doing, where and when during the day. Where am I going? Brighton Centre. Ah that’s not the hotel we have used on previous Brighton Days. Last minute text and I am reassured it is very near and a taxi man will find it for me. Euston a bit late and the down escalator is not working. Underground to the Northern Line. “All square on the Northern Line” I remember the words. And off I go to London Bridge via Bank. How often I travelled this in my first year at Guy’s from my hostel in Bayswater. Better décor at London Bridge these days and escalators rather than waiting for a lift or mounting the very long spiral staircase, generating heat and sweat, inhaling the dusty air.

    And London Bridge station, Look at you now! So many people, moving like rivers round and down and where are we going? Notices about The Shard. I had not realised it was stuck on top of London Bridge Station! Thankfully there were tall, friendly and understanding men in fluorescent yellow waiting at key points to shepherd the uncertain toward their platforms. At the lowest corner, the glare of lights was dimmer and there was the subdued entrance to the Guy’s Hospital which I remembered. Still the grubby London Brick and the simple but largish notice “Guys Hospital”.

    That strange feeling of “home”, albeit a home for a while and many years ago. So much to remember. So much to be grateful for. So lovely to hold those people who have lived with me in memory or occasional contact in the years since then. 

    Train to Brighton a bit late. Taxi driver who knew the way and talked about nonleague football, Wolves and Brighton. Got me there in time to the cavernous Brighton Centre which is just next door to the hotel and seemed to have little to commend it other than the familiar buzz of people, all pleased to be together and generous in their greetings to me! The signage, modern word! Was in Japanese as far as I could see. Thankfully there were tall men, not in fluorescent yellow, who rescued me repeatedly.

    The session I chaired featured reports, from excellent young women, on offering training in care homes, and identifying people with dementia, and Lewy Body Dementia in particular, in care homes. Alistair Burns was quoted several times. ‘Don’t let people with dementia in care homes fall through the net’. Well the projects were interesting and well thought through and presented. It is great that additional interest and resource is being focussed on care homes, carers and residents. My only question is whether a label of dementia is a great advantage to individuals in care. It could be counterproductive in changing perception of an individual from person to ‘a case of’. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16252372

    Having got that far, I wondered what Tom Kitwood would have made of the Memorial Address in his honour from Arlene Astell, Professor at Sheffield and Toronto. Her title ‘Innovating in long term care’ did not warn us that this was to be a description and eulogy of the joy of computer and robot based care.

    People say that nurses in acute wards devote more time to their computers than to patients.

    I have learned since that the much valued morning address from a minister was again devalued by David Mowat, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Care, deciding to deliver his message as a read statement by video. Smart new computers can be reflective of responses from humans, but videos just tell you what you are to know and haven’t the capacity to listen or reflect on what you might have to say. Shame. I think there should be strong objection to this dismissal of our importance and the concerns which People in this country and the wider world, have for dementia and its human and economic consequences.

    Norman Lamb used to come and listen. He is still greatly respected. 

    It may be time to decide not to invite a minister unless there is a guarantee of a whole human being presence. 

    So here I am feeling annoyed, even wild about all this. 

    But then I know that we were able to outline the Dementia Conversations work at East Cowes and Bowdon Vale. And I found the JDC article from Bob Friedrich and Bob Woods on Dementia Friendly Churches.

    Then there is Jill Manthorpe and Steve Iliffe, in the same November December issue, challenging the wisdom and direction of the Dementia Strategy. 

    Not comfortable fireside reading. Out on the wild side again.

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