In March 2011, I wrote here of Private Eye’s disturbing piece about the way in which the Alzheimer’s Society had closed down 240 regional branch committees, merging them into large regional centres, and then apparently seizing control of all the funds in those branches, and also branch property. (No. 1284; 18 March 2011 – 31 March 2011; page 30.) The Alzheimer’s Society didn’t care enough to reply to Private Eye’ article Fund razing, as far as I can see.
The Alzheimer’s Society funds, operates and manages an “online support and discussion forum, for anyone affected by dementia. It’s a place to ask for advice, share information, join in discussions and feel supported.” Allegedly. The forum is currently sponsored by Santander, with Tesco somewhere in the background, plus a few other sources of funding. Probably Bupa, and many other care providers.
There was quite some discussion here on the Alzheimer’s Society forum about the closure of local branch committees and seizing of funds from local branches. 168 postings in total, so a fairly lengthy thread on the forum, with many questions being asked but many soft-fudge replies being given by the Alzheimer’s Society. Then, before you could blink, the thread was locked, closed to further comment, because long-serving and loyal members of Talking Point – the name given to the so-called ‘support and discussion forum’ – were not happy about the platitudes being dished out to them by the Alzheimer’s Society. They were confused, upset, fed up and disgruntled. Many of them no longer support the Alzheimer’s Society or post on Talking Point.
A few weeks later, Private Eye (No. 1289; 27 May – 9 June 2011; page 30) reported that even more volunteers were being driven away from the Charity, with new breakaway groups emerging. One group apparently wrote to the Alzheimer’s Society complaining that it was “utterly unacceptable and unforgiveable to write in such disdainfully bureacratic terms to anyone, let alone a group of women who have given so much of their time, energy and devotion to the very society you represent”. Alun Parry-Jones, a former Alzheimer’s Society committee member was the chair of that breakaway group. He also said “the society should be ashamed of driving out ‘the expertise and dedication of this group of stalwarts’.” That piece was published in Private Eye under the banner Voluntary redundancy.
Again, the Alzheimer’s Society didn’t care enough to comment.
Now, Private Eye features a piece on the £2.4m given to the Alzheimer’s Society to train one million ‘dementia friends’. The Eye (No. 1328; 30 November – 12 December 2012; page 30) headlines its piece with the words Sick joke. Ernie Thompson, who started the old Sunderland branch in 1987, said “That the Society is now being paid to find new volunteers as dementia friends looks to me like a sick joke. It was what we had been doing for years – only to be summarily dismissed”.
I wonder whether the Alzheimer’s Society will care enough to comment on that one.
It appears that the Alzheimer’s Society neither supports nor wants freedom of thought and actions where dementia is concerned. It only supports freedoms that the Alzheimer’s Society finds acceptable. The Alzheimer’s Society is strangling its members. There is now even an unbelievable attempt to control the way people write their posts on its Talking Point forum. Posts are edited behind the scenes without prior discussion with the writer of the posts, and often leaving no visible trace of the reasons for editing; words are changed or removed from posts without discussion; mention of moderators’ actions is not allowed; people are gagged when they dare attempt genuine discussion.
Salaried employees of the Alzheimer’s Society are paid to delete all mention of tragedies such as Winterbourne View. Every single mention of Winterbourne View has been edited out – and there were many. The words “Winterbourne View” no longer appear on any post on that forum. The disgust felt by reasonable people when the tragedy of Winterbourne View became known has been the catalyst for potentially huge improvements in the way care is provided to vulnerable people. But it never happened, as far as the Alzheimer’s Society’s online support forum is concerned. Terry Bryan would be more than upset, I fear, and rightly so.
Censorship has deleted Winterbourne View. Alongside many other things deleted by the Alzheimer’s Society.
Is that another Sick joke on the part of the Alzheimer’s Society?