Yesterday saw my first venture out since the chaos of Dementia Action Week. It had taken me all this time just to feel less discombobulated. I’d also uncharacteristically been sleeping lots, which was very nice, but meant I didn’t sleep much last night as I was worried about oversleeping 🙄 can’t win……😊
So back to yesterday……I was travelling down to Fleet in Hampshire. It had an autumnal feel to the morning, cold and foggy…..bizarre weather lately. It was the first train of the day so the silly oclock start meant me and the driver trundled down to the station in silence – a tad too early for both of us.
I was heading down to a new destination as I’d been asked by Francis Bosompim if I would speak at a family event for family members and staff of a care home that he is supporting around dementia care.
The early morning spring sunshine was trying very hard to burn the fog away.
It was so cold on the train they brought round blankets 😳……..Francis txt me early on in the journey to check everything was ok, which is always so much appreciated. I’d had a moment of panic the day before as I couldn’t get in touch with him to check the final details. Just me being over cautious and wanting to feel safe but he made up for it on the journey.
The event wasn’t until 2pm but they’d kindly agreed to me having a hotel for the night and booked me an early check in. This would mean I could have a snuggle after the long journey.
The first train arrived in London and I caught the tube to Waterloo. I have another new app for the tube journeys, as the maps they give out have such tiny print I can’t make it out. I can’t remember if I’ve ever been to Waterloo station before……but I arrived amidst chaos……so many trains cancelled or delayed due to signalling problems (they must have heard I was coming🙄). Not knowing the area, I spotted an earlier train to Fleet that seemed to be one of the few still running so went for that one…..just in case. I would only arrive 10 minutes earlier but Francis had said it was no problem as he’d emptied his calendar for the day to make sure everything went smoothly 😍……big brownie point from me.
He was waiting on the station platform for me and drove me the short distance to the hotel, making sure I was able to check in early and just get settled for an hour.
Francis studied at Bradford University so had some very good teachers……..having come over from Africa in the early 2000’s, he’s now committed to improving the lives of people with dementia as a Gerontologist.
He works for the large care home group, Sunrise and Sister company Gracewell. I would be heading to one of them, called Gracewell of Church Crookham located in Fleet. Sunrise is more residential focus and Gracewell is more clinical and nursing home type. And right on time Francis came back to the hotel to take me there along with Lisa, an Activity coordinator from Sunrise.
We sat and chatted in a lovely open café area, looking out onto a large garden space
about everything including the Sunrise residents trip to M&S and having a lovely time and Francis’s trip to see the Dementia village in the Netherlands. Francis spoke about the cultural differences in various areas of the world including Africa and America – fascinating and could have listened to his thoughts all day long.
The time rolled on and I was taken to the ‘cinema room’ where staff, family and a few residents were waiting to hear me talk. I chatted about all manner of things, as usual – focussing on the CAN and ignoring the CAN’T; adapting; challenges and solutions before ending by reading the story of Billy.
There were questions at the end – can’t remember what, but asked by many. I chatted to some residents as everyone was leaving and each said how they loved their new home. They were lovely and many bought a copy of my book.
Afterwards we went to Lisa’s work at Sunrise Senior Living a short drive away which had a very grand entrance.
I hadn’t really realised where I was talking until I saw the Sunrise sign at the entrance to the home. Then I realised I’d seen their stands at many conferences….
Residents were just coming back from an outing and were sat having tea and cakes …..And look at this amazing scrabble board in their café – one of the residents was keen to point out that a child had been mixing all the letters up …I hadn’t noticed..😂
Francis tried his hardest to get me to eat snacks and sandwiches of every variety before asking the kitchen to make me a packed lunch to take back to the hotel…….I’ve never eaten so much…..😂 He then went and got the money to refund my expenses….in cash….wonderful and saves so much hassle.
Once back in my room I asked Mr Google to find out some info for me about Francis……
it turns out this amazing man was awarded the prestigious Dr Trevor Jarvis Award by the University of Bradford for his exceptional work on dementia care. He omitted to tell me that! Trevor and his wife Anne were wonderful friends and I still miss seeing them.
Another wonderful day in a new arena for me……..I’m so lucky……what a contrast to the Panorama programme on the Social Care crisis last night😔 but that would need a whole new blog to discuss…..