Shaping the Future of Dementia Care in Wakefield

I’ve found it amazing the amount of people I’ve ‘met’ via Twitter and the opportunities arising from it. This happened last week when I randomly came across a ‘chat session’ involving Vanessa Garrity. During the chat she mentioned a workshop taking place in Wakefield for health care professionals, people with dementia and carers and asked if I’d like to attend.

Being local and having the venue close to the station made it an easy decision. I thought it would be useful to see how a neighbouring authority was dealing with services for people with dementia in comparison with York. It was fascinating………..

The organisers, Vanessa and Val had the wonderful idea of having an artist, Tom Bailey, present all day to translate themes from the day into pictures and I’ve included some of his work throughout this blog – great idea for any event!


The wonderful Tommy Whitelaw started off proceedings with his fabulous talk abount his experience caring for his mother. I have so much respect for Tommy as it must be so difficult to relive his experience time after time but that just reiterates his desire to bring about change. The powerful and inspiring speech he gave touched us all. He must be in need of a new pair of shoes with the distance he’s travelled round the country! It was so good to meet him in person finally (it was my main incentive for travelling there).

Anita Ruckledge MBE (lead nurse for dementia care at The Mid Yorkshire Hospitals)  was the first clinical professional to impress me and spoke of many initiatives. She has led the transformation of care for those with dementia and the elderly at the hospital by creating a dementia friendly environment. She is obviously passionate about providing the most appropriate care for patients. She spoke of the process of providing food pack to go home with if needed; comfort packs for the family staying with the patient –

“if relatives have to stay they’ll be welcome as a person with dementia needs family support in hospital”


Not every hospital even allows open visiting times so it’s refreshing to see that relatives are allowed to stay!

Richard Cribbens Nurse Consultant, spoke of the need  for a pathway for younger people with suspected dementia and the same approach wherever diagnosed

During a question and answer session I congratulated them on their initiatives and was refreshingly pleased to hear them all saying that they weren’t happy with their services as there was always room for improvement and

“we’re trying to get it right”

Fabulous work going on in Wakefield – they won 2 of the 3 Vanguard project – community and care home – looking at services for the future. The aim of the day was to start looking at the changes needed and they spoke of looking at one united nursing workforce which looks at the person holistically – magic:)


Senior commissioning manager – Alix Jeavons – for the area spoke of having to be creative with less money coming in. Delivering transformational change –

“it is a journey and we’re still on that journey. Although we have some good pathways we have people who are falling through the net and not getting a good service.”

She spoke of need to make efficiencies – consistency being the key point. Everyone has needs as a person – mental health problem will affect your physical welfare – Alix spoke of the need for the right skilled workforce with the right attitude with core underlying beliefs for a person as a whole –

“we’re not task focussed we’re individual focussed”

I hope words are transformed into actions.


After the speaches and a lovely lunch, we had 4 ’round the table’ discussions – Assessment and diagnosis; Wider dementia communities and assistive technologies; End of life and holistic planning and Carers Support.


End of life & holistic planning discussion generated some interesting points – mainly the need to talk talk talk . Also GPs need training on how to talk easily to patients re end of life wishes – just because you’re a GP doesn’t mean you have that inbuilt skill as it doesn’t come naturally to all. Some carers may not wish to talk, some patients with dementia may not wish to talk because it’s uncomfortable but if it became ‘normal’ it would be easier. My contribution was the fact that Lasting Powers of Attorney  should be encouraged at an earlier age and not just when you need it.


One very surprising comment by the Consultant is the fact that he needs to continually remind GPs that the Alzheimer’s Society supports people with every type of dementia and not just Alzheimer’s – he actually writes it on all his diagnosis letters now!

Assessment and diagnosis – all spoke of the increasing numbers of people being referred with no increase in resources to ensure a timely diagnosis



Assistive Technology – my contribution here centred around the value of technology to remain independent for longer, especially if you lived alone and the need for more encouragement from clinicians to be involved in research (all types of research, clinical, preventative, living better)


Quote of the day has to be this one:

“Our aim to continue to listen to the experts and the experts are the people with dementia and carers -person first and dementia second”

As always, I’m really hoping words are converted into actions, but they certainly appeared to  take note of the things I said today……..I was born in Wakefield so it seemed weird and spooky that after all these years I was back there…..




About wendy7713

On the 31st July 2014 I was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s. I may not have much of a short term memory anymore but that date is one I’ll never forget. I’m 58 years young, live happily alone in Yorkshire, have 2 daughters and I’m currently still in full time employment in the NHS. However, I’m now in the process of taking early retirement to give me a chance of enjoying life while I’m still me. I've started this blog to allow me, in the first instance, to write all my thoughts before they’re lost. If anyone chooses to follow my ramblings it will serve as a way of raising awareness on the lack of research into Alzheimer's. It will hopefully convey the helplessness of those diagnosed with dementia, as there is no cure – the end is inevitable. However, I’m also hoping I can convey that, although we've been diagnosed, people like me still have a substantial contribution to make; we still have a sense of humour; we sill have feelings. I’m hoping to show the reality of trying to cope on a day to day basis with the ever-changing environment that dementia throws at those diagnosed with the condition. What I want is not sympathy. What I want is simply to raise awareness.

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