The London Marathon kept us occupied on what was a very wet Sunday morning here – only a virtual marathon, as watching and listening to it on TV is not the same as taking part, but I know my limitations! The aims of all the fund-raising fun-runners, not to mention the challenges they set themselves on behalf of others, are always uplifting and positively encouraging. So I thought I’d do some virtual searching for good news, especially good news about elderly care and dementia care, and I’ve managed to find a couple or three.
Solicitor Yvonne Hossack, dubbed the Erin Brokovich of care homes, is a candidate in the forthcoming General Election, standing for Stockton South as an Independent candidate. She has been a tireless campaigner over many years, striving to improve the lot of elderly people in care, and she has successfully fought care home closures. There have been many attempts to silence her, but fortunately she refuses to abandon her strong belief that the elderly deserve decent care. Nobody can argue with that. Good luck, Yvonne.
Then I came across an old article about person-centred dementia care. At first glance, it reads like a plug for Barchester Care Homes, but so much of it is the most basic common sense, it really does force you wonder why such common sense is not always a feature of care homes. So it’s good news that someone is hopefully putting in place person-centred dementia care. A photograph album full of memories was the very first thing I put together for my own relative with dementia, when she first needed what I will call ‘a bit of support’. I didn’t then put name captions to the photographs, because she could name every single person and place, right back to 1930, even though she couldn’t remember whether she’d had her breakfast that day, or even what day it was. Name captions were added to the pics when she went into residential care, so that the support workers would be able to use it with her. That was my hope. (If only!)
That article mentioned ‘Contented Dementia’ written by Oliver James, describing Penny Garner’s work with dementia and the SPECAL (Specialized Elderly Care for Alzheimer’s) approach to dementia care. Again, much of that book is basic common sense and for a ‘beginner carer’ it gives encouragement and it reinforces many of the instincts you have to draw on, when trying to help and promote the well-being of a person with dementia. The Alzheimer’s Society doesn’t approve of SPECAL, saying it ‘takes away choice and control from people with dementia, its ethos is counter to the Mental Capacity Act and it claims to offer the only alternative approach to caring when in fact it is one of a number of approaches‘. When I read the book, soon after it was published, I didn’t feel that it was claiming to offer the only approach – just one single approach. (Why does the Alz Soc use the word ‘alternative’? Alternative to what?) The Alzheimer’s Society implies that SPECAL involves telling lies to people with dementia. I’ve tried to work out where the ethos of SPECAL is counter to the Mental Capacity Act and I’m at a loss to understand the Alzheimer’s Society’s position, in spite of having read (several times now) the MCA cover to cover for various reasons. Early in my own dealings with dementia, I realised that I was causing stress and distress to my dementia-sufferer if ever I corrected the ‘false beliefs’ that were expressed to me. But if I went along with the flourish of ‘old memories’ as if they had happened yesterday, then the stress and distress was minimal. It led to fewer tears, less confusion and more contentment. QED: give it a go!
Back to my virtual hunting for good news: I then came across David Sheard – more of that please!! If every single care home, dementia-registered with the CQC, could be required to undergo (before receiving residents) the kind of training that David Sheard offers – what a difference that would make to dementia care.
I’ve been searching for good news on the dementia day care front. Delhi is to have its own day care centre for Alzheimer’s – good news for India’s 6 million Alzheimer’s sufferers. Staggering statistic.
And finally, from Scotland, news from the Dementia Services Development Centre – which cheered me, for some reason. Perhaps because I’ve not found anything similar elsewhere in the UK.
More good-news-research to be done another day.