• A day out in Shropshire 23 May 2017 | View comments

  • 23rd May 2017 | By David Jolley

    On Friday I found myself travelling to Oswestry. This is not a town I have known in the past. The invitation came to me from Dr Fiona Hay, a General Practitioner based in Much Wenlock. She has been interested in the work at Gnosall with the charismatic Dr Ian Greaves. I think this outing fell to me because Ian was already committed elsewhere and Susan Benbow is also tied up on Fridays.

    The journey took me along the M56 to junction 15, turn left and travel south via Wrexham, in Wales, and out the other side towards Oswestry on the A483.

    The study day had been organised by Dr Hay and her colleague Alison Whitelaw at the Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital www.rjah.nhs.uk. This is an impressively bright, clean and lively hospital with many volunteers. We were to use the splendid conference centre.

    The day was styled to be of interest to professionals in primary care, working with individuals with dementia and their families.

    There was a good turnout of committed and engaged women and men. They were vibrant after an inspiring morning which they referred back to in discussions. 

    Andy Lowndes from Playlist for Life had shaken them into action and moved them with music from the very start. https://www.playlistforlife.org.uk/aboutus/meet-the-team/#3106

    This is about living with dementia.

    George Rook had shared some of the activities of Shropshire Dementia Action Alliance. Wonderful to know that there is an effective alliance here. The equivalent in Trafford seems to be dead after two meetings. http://www.dementiaaction.org.uk/who_we_are

    There had been sessions with a Memory Outreach Nurse, staff from a hospice and Dementia Friends. The buzz was palpable, if buzzing can be felt as well as heard.

    I came in from a cloudburst of rain and through a funnel of jammed traffic on the last stretch of the A483. I was just in time to catch the whole of Min Stackpole of St Christopher’s, sharing her vision, sharing her caring, sharing Namaste. http://www.stchristophers.org.uk/care-homes/research/namaste

    With Ann Regan I had been uplifted by a visit to St Christopher’s when we were preparing for our dementia service at Willow Wood Hospice six years ago. Min was one of the people we met on that day and she continues to develop the work and share the vision. Hearing it again, I was again lifted high.

    Deborah Alma is a poet recruited into the field as a resident poet to care homes in Worcester by John Killick. She does it well and has extended the concept. We were mesmerised and transformed. https://emergencypoet.com/

    Then Helen Rodenhurst from the library service exhibited the range of activities which she and her colleagues use to engage people with dementia and their families and professional carers. She also suggested useful reading for individuals with dementia and for their families. http://shropshire.gov.uk/news/2017/02/shropshire-libraries-to-extend-shared-memory-bag-scheme/

    It was so lovely to hear her positive commitment to this work and to know that in some areas of the country the potential and power of libraries is still valued. In Trafford the message is that many professionals have been lost and the work falls to willing volunteers. I must check how much tailored activity for people with dementia they find time and talent to undertake.

    I told the tale of Gnosall, in the context of changes in services from mental hospital to primary care over 50 years. Dr Hay shared something of her own work which uses the principles of Gnosall and which is effective and improves standards and satisfaction within her practice. More effort, but more rewards she would say.

    How fabulous to taste all this on a day out in England the other side of Wales, through the rain and a funnel of traffic.

    I came home cross country.

    I passed a roadside notice advertising Car Share in Shropshire. https://carshareshropshireandtelford.co.uk/

    Pinch me. All this is real.

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