• Something about Fridays 08 May 2017 | View comments

  • 8th May 2017 | By David Jolley

    We knew the days of the week by the food on our plates as we gathered around the dining table. Sunday roast. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday some version of the meat reused. Meat was usually lamb, pork of beef in that order. Chicken was special and reserved for Christmas and other high holidays. Thursday came with sausages and mash. Friday became smoked haddock, and Saturday liver and bacon. At scout camp, I was the only one able to cook liver and bacon. The way we did it, this was a treat, floating on a bed of onions and gravy. The mashed potatoes all but dissolved in the brown swirl.

    So, culinary wise Friday was, and is, fish. But there is more to Friday.

    On the one hand, it is often the day the angels entertain themselves by throwing ‘rather difficult’ problems at me, and probably you, one after another or three at a time.

    Bill has set off from his home in Chorlton, muddled and bemused that the bus station has moved but determined to get to his sister in law in St Anne’s. Somehow he has got there and knocked on the door of the current owners of her former home. She died three years ago. We somehow need to make him safe and return him home.

    Edith has struggled through the week with daily visits from her CPN but cannot face the weekend ahead. She feels she has become useless and a burden to her family and to us.

    A younger man, unknown to services, has attacked children in a playground, injured a teacher as she defended them and he is now hiding somewhere in a block of flats.

    The only thing to do is to accept that these things will happen, especially on Fridays, and we must not object but do our best to help. There will be an end to the day.

    Our colleague Richard Stevens, whom we met through a mutual interest in the possibility that professional footballers are more prone to dementia, has found that cursing it all may give us strength to copehttps //www.earth.com/news/swearing-helps-cope-stronger/

    Interesting but not in keeping with my personal experience. Over aroused I become frantic, make bad decisions and spiral into defeat. ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ seems to work better.

    But the other side of Friday is the chance to take a breath and put things into perspective.

    Despite all the pressures of the week we set aside two hours every Friday in the early days of the South Manchester Psychogeriatric service to look at things, reflect and make plans. This is where the research with David Wilkin and Beverley Hughes was conceived, refined, improved and delivered.

    Fridays at 4pm in Wolverhampton was tea at Beatties with colleagues from Social Services and anyone else who would join us. It was an impossible task. We had an impossible dream. It worked, inching forward week by week, adjusting in the light of reality but getting there.

    Fridays now are times with colleagues who are still working within the NHS and university. It is wonderful to hear these good clinicians talk with depth of knowledge and concern for their patients, the families, and colleagues in other agencies.

    There is so much which makes you feel the world has lost its senses. Here we have it that sense is around. It is having its impact and it is being strengthened by sharing, quietly, in confidence that observations and experience at the coalface have the power of truth. Still learning.

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