Talk to Staff at NHS England

Yesterday – World Alzheimer’s Day – I was invited to speak to staff at NHS England. They’re based at Quarry House in Leeds.

I grew up in this area and remember the infamous Quarry Hill Flats – at the time they were the largest social housing complex of it’s time but poor maintenance and social problems led them to be demolished in 1978.


A regeneration programme then took place and the site is now unrecognisable. The area now has the West Yorkshire playhouse, which recently won an award for it’s work with people with dementia, BBC Yorkshire and Leeds College of Music. It also has Quarry House, locally nicknamed ‘The Kremlin’ for obvious reasons below. So the area has vastly changed from my childhood.


Penny Kirk (Quality Improvement Manager and twitter friend) contacted me  weeks ago asking if I would speak to NHS England staff. They then had the idea of recording the talk and also allowing all staff across the country the opportunity to watch the talk via a webcast from their desks –  excellent way of saving money and increasing the number who hear the talk!

Becky Smith helped sort out all my travel and met me at Leeds train station to take me to the Kremlin, the Head quarters.

Sandra Winters – Head of Well Being – introduced the event – the first webcast of its kind at NHS England.

Sandra doing the introductions
Sandra doing the introductions

The room was almost full and nearly 200 people logged in at their desks – the opportunities are endless for this sort of awareness session. It was being recorded so those that missed it could watch at a later date.

I spoke about my experience at work and how the NHS had let me down but also now, there was no excuse for anyone to be let down as NHS Employers had produced their guidelines for employers but also the Alzheimers society had also release a document on creating a dementia friendly workplace. Help is out there for employers to support their employees.
I also spoke of my passion for research – at length! – and how NHS clinicians should embrace the advantages of patients being involved in research.

I’m convinced there is a saving to be had for the NHS if only it saw the advantages of encouraging participation in research.

It not only makes you feel valued but this leads to an improvement in your well being. So often we hear of people sinking into depression when diagnosed. This could change if they were given the opportunity to be involved in finding ways to improve the future for their children and you’re so well looked after than if you’re simply left in the system…….

I told them about my personal experience as a patient last week when it was the small things which cost nothing to implement which were missing – for example, orientation when admitted to a ward and also the craziness of nurse, physician and aneathetists all asking me the same medical history questions which I’m likely to get wrong!

I spoke of my involvement with the new timetable for student nurses at York University – the subject of a blog last week  – can’t wait to meet them all again in December…..

Finally I ended the talk with my take on the advantages of living with Alzheimers……..all the magic opportunities that have come my way; and ended by saying that the biggest advantage was never being without Great British Bake off……That sadness that everyone feels when the series is drawing to a close and the knowledge that it won’t be on the screen again for months – I don’t have that sadness because I just start watching the series all over again as I can’t remember who won and who got kicked off each week! 😊

Many questions came through from those at their desks – some anonymously – which goes to show there could still be fear about divulging an association with dementia –  but I answered many there and then and the rest I answered with Michelle and these will be posted on their web. Questions were asked in the room as well. WE ran out of time in the end.

It was such a good experience and NHS England now have a terrific opportunity to build on that success and could achieve much with the web casts.

Michelle and Becky took me back to the station and we realised we hadn’t taken any pictures so we did the selfie below before I left them



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.

4 thoughts on “Talk to Staff at NHS England

  1. Thank you for taking the time out to come and share your experiences – NHS England staff were very appreciative of your time and thoroughly enjoyed listening to your inspiring talk.

    See you soon Wendy!


  2. Thanks Wendy for sharing your story with us – it has certainly inspired me to focus on reviewing what we can do to improve our awareness, attitude and approach in the workplace in how we support each other, but also as an employer how we support staff diagnosed themselves or caring for someone living with this condition.
    Kind Regards
    Sandra Winters
    NHS England


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