A busy week travelling this week so yesterday was another trundle down to London but this time for 2 days…..
It was going to be 2 days of full on Dementia Enquirers with the first day taken up by an Ethics discussion – the issues for people with dementia and ethics committees, the barriers we face and possible solutions…..
The second day would be a meeting of the Pioneers – agreeing a process for the next lot of grant applications…..so 2 heavy but fun packed days with playmates, and our able enablers, Rachael and Philly.
Anyway before the start I had to get there…..a silly o’clock start again as I’d decided against staying the night before due to being in York and I prefer travelling on the day and staying just one night. I’m also not keen on travelling at night, which is what I would have had to do on this occasion. I find travelling in the dark disorientating but in the morning, it eventually gets light which makes it more possible.
The taxi people had asked me the night before if I could be ready 5 minutes earlier so at 05.40 this morning I was ready and waiting with my suitcase and the taxi lights appeared. It’s often a quiet trundle at that time in a morning as neither of us are quite awake. It was all going fine until we got to the station, then I realised why they’d asked to pick me up early ….because he had another run for the same train straight after. He started to rush me and rushing me never works. I hadn’t been organised so didn’t have my money ready, so fumbled about dropping coins and getting in a pickle 🙈…I don’t really know how much I gave him and then must have dropped my glove when getting out as I realised I had one cold hand as I stood on the platform trying to get myself back to normal 🙄…..I’m fine as long as people give me time…….but, of course, when others are in a hurry, they forget that…..
The train was on time, I got my cuppa weak black tea and everything was ok in the world again……it was a very busy train though and agitated passengers trying to find seats and arguing with staff made for a stressful journey on an already discombobulated day…..I didn’t feel right, so instead I tried to disappear into my own world and look out of the window …
Soon the daytime appeared making it a much friendlier world….
I got to London in plenty of time to find this new venue….so went for an amble first …..and ended up leaving my stick somewhere 🙈….I’d had my suitcase to balance on so hadn’t noticed until I went to swap hands…so I had to retrace where I thought I’d been. Turns out I had left it in a shop but they’d taken it to lost property 😳…so then had to find Lost Property, then they wanted ID, and to fill out a form 🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯 but they saw my lanyard and decided I wasn’t a risk and let me have my stick back🙏🙄
Because of the stick panic, I was then in a bit of a pickle about being late and ended up getting lost🙈 and Google took me through a housing estate🤪😱…….went the wrong way …but then I spied a sign on a building in the distance – Lumen, my destination. Playmates were there so much appreciated hugs were given all around…..I went outside into the courtyard just to settle my head…
We finallly started and Rachael and Agnes were chairing the day. We went round and introduced ourselves. Today we had many people there, including playmates and academics who had been invited to help us, from a variety of Universities…..
Rachael whizzed through quickly saying what Dementia Enquirers is – people with dementia leading reasearch from the front on subjects WE think important to research. Along the way it’s hoped that people with dementia will learn new skills, such as around ethics today…..
Dory introduced the ‘Jargon Jar’ to emphasise the need to use plain English otherwise you have to pay a fine. I said “or you can write us a cheque at the end’….🙄😂
There’s a barrier around ethics approvals for our projects – do we need ethics approval? And if we do then there are so many barriers to achieving this. But can we create a new system that’s quicker, a more urgent way.
Tom Shakespeare said the problems are that the ethical process is difficult and complex for the professionals so for those with cognitive difficulties it’s even more complex.
Publications will ask where did we get ethical approval…..or won’t publish, so that’s another barrier in having our work taken seriously.
The Pioneers then spoke about the issues ……mine was:
“If we can influence ethics committees to see our ability differently – to see our un- vulnerability as they are always trying to protect us.It will dispel myths around our capabilities”
We want to create our own system, our own ethics process….”The University of the Dementia World” as Agnes said. But as Tom said, we still have to follow certain laws.
The academics then responded. Someone said there’s a cultural problem as even Junior Researchers have problems when needing extra support and help.
If we create our own ethics process, will it be considered as something to take seriously?
“The more noise we can make about being disempowered, the better”…….said academic Lucy.
There were disagreements and voices raised in the room, but we all have respect for one another and could listen to each other’s opinions. We were hearing the frustrations in peoples voices about some of the current systems. I started to get confused as to why we were here and getting a bit discombobulated but think that was just me and my brain on the day…..
We finished off before lunch with what we need to consider to set up our own ethics committee …..working in pairs, one person with dementia, one academic. I was working with Tracey from Worcester Uni. I found this head blowing just to understand what I had to do…….the conversations going on around me made my head buzz. Took me a while to simply understand what I had to do and Philly came along to help and then Tracey tried to help and eventually I could do enough to contribute, but not to my usual standard…..just not a good day for me…Tracey drew the short straw getting me today! 🤪….
Philly went through all the post its trying to gain a consensus….no easy task!
More discussion followed….on what this process, committee would look like, building trust between people with dementia and academics…but it was time for lunch and a head break…….
After a lovely lunch where the chatter continued……Agnes started off the afternoon to help us create an ethical approval process with people with dementia leading…..
We had to list step by step what would need to be in place……again Tracey drew the short straw and had me….🙄……but we managed to get through it before the discussion took place. But in between Agnes did a wonderful relaxation 5 minutes….and then we continued with the last hour….we each fed back what we’d come up with which put altogether was very comprehensive…..Dory’s group got a brownie point for suggesting a 15 minute video to play each time to help us remember what we’re doing and how.
someone said, at the end…”it would have taken others many months and many more meetings to achieve what we achieved today” but they have one thing we don’t…..time…..
There were lots of different opinions in the room and Agnes and Rachael chaired amazingly …….but as Agnes said
“We rise above our differences to get an outcome” ……..a good way to finish an intense but good day…….and all I wanted was my hotel room and silence…….