A while ago Jeremy Hughes had asked if I’d speak at the annual spring seminar for Directors of Social Services.
Apparently it’s very hard to get an invite to this as it’s not a public meeting but due to the centrality of dementia to the current social care crisis, they invited me to address the Conference in Stafford. Some of the focus of their conference will be on the Prime Ministers Challenge on Dementia and The Government Green Paper on Social Care, so only right someone with dementia was there.
I’m never sure how much of the message they listen to at these type of meetings but I was prepared to give it a go and make sure my message was loud and clear.
I’ve had 3 very enjoyable but busy listening and speaking days so I’d had a banging headache since day one – a simple side effect from the effort that goes into listening and speaking! But on Tuesday night, during my sleep, wake, sleep, wake routine of the dark, I woke up at midnight to find my head clear and bright! It felt like spring had arrived in my head after a bad storm. I almost wanted to get up to enjoy it in case it didn’t last😂…..but I needn’t have worried as I woke to find the sun has disappeared but at least the storm had stopped banging about in my head..
My taxi was on time and the first train on time…..once I got to Hull I found what I thought was my train but it said it was going to Leeds😱. I found the driver and asked him, only for him to say he needed to make a few phone calls as he thought he was going to Manchester too😳…………Obviously something had gone wrong somewhere and he came on the intercom saying he was taking the train to Manchester….🙄
I wasn’t due to speak until 4.30….it will be interesting to see how many have left before I get up and speak. I arrive at 12 so I’ll be able to see…….the events lasts for 3 days so maybe some of what I say will register as I’m at the end of the first day….
Helen Foster, Director of Operations was due to meet me at the station and look after me for the duration as I needed to stay overnight due to speaking so late.
It was very misty, murky and drizzly as we trundled out of Hull….I couldn’t even take a photo of the Humber as it was hardly visible and the windows were very dirty……..(don’t they realise the importance of clean train windows!🤣)
Anyway, got to Manchester and caught the final train to Stafford……hadn’t realised it was my least favourite train company……Cross Country🤦♀️ but at least it was only for an hour……
Helen met me as promised at the station, having sent me a photo of herself and then we proceeded to have a rare old adventure to find the conference centre, which entailed going through narrow flooded country lanes and into the middle of nowhere!! Good job Helen had a 4×4! We chatted happily in the car and Helen has a therapy dog which she takes into Care Homes and a children’s hospice – Sasha………….very jealous…….
We booked in and they immediately seemed to know who we were and someone came along to say hello and that she would be hearing me speak somewhere later in the year😳
Helen then earned her brownie point by getting me a much needed cuppa as I hadn’t had once since I left home😱……
We joined at the start of the afternoon plenary so we could see the venue etc. I didn’t want to type about the content as it wasn’t a public meeting and I didn’t want to put people off chatting by having my ipad open!!
As you can see from the programme below, the first speaker of the afternoon was the Minister for Social Care. the second was the Shadow Minister and the third was Jon Rouse from Greater Manchester Devolution area……after a much needed cuppa, there was Ray James, National Director of Learning Disabilities who began with a short video by 2 people with learning disabilities who basically told those present to ‘Get on with it’…..wonderful!
It was finally my turn. The audience had reduced but not by many and the room was still relatively full. Helen introduced me after stating some facts and figures about dementia.
I started by inviting them to:
“Imagine yourselves being given a diagnosis of Young onset dementia………”
Then spoke of the 3 Nations Dementia Working Group and Minds and Voices course in York, followed by……
“In the next 5 years huge social care change must take place so that in 10 years time, we’re proud of what the country has in place. People living with cancer aren’t shoe horned into inappropriate treatment, those recovering from a stroke aren’t shoe horned into inappropriate treatment….so why are people with dementia? Dementia lags behind in medical innovation so the need for social transformation is greater.
We don’t have innovative medical procedures to follow or a plethora of choice on medication because research has been sadly underfunded so the need for social transformation is greater.”
I ended on a personal note that hopefully struck home
“I don’t want my children to be faced with the chaos of care when I can no longer care for myself and I’m sure you wouldn’t want your children to face that challenge either.”
It seemed to go down well. Many came up afterwards to say thank you. I just hope my words don’t fade and become a vague memory in their busy minds………