Bet you’re wondering what on earth I’m going to write 🤣
Well in case you hadn’t been aware, this week is Dementia Awareness Week….I used to make a big thing of it, naively thinking massive changes would occur because of it….. but now it’s become tiring as dementia isn’t just for a week it’s now for life. Once the week is over, dementia gets a back seat again and rarely does it make any difference. However, I’m always kept busy with offers of talks and have been booked up for months…..
So Monday morning of this hectic week was taken up by a talk to North Yorkshire County Council staff during their Festival of Practice. Adult Social Care staff would be the main attendees. The person that contacted me, Tamar Goudie, had apparently met me 5 years ago when I spoke to student nurses…😳…she’s now a practice development person for North Yorkshire Adult social care staff.
“The Festival of Practice is a month-long digital event where we host a number of talks and webinars on a variety of relevant topics in adult social care.” So I suppose I fit in nicely into Dementia Awareness week…..
The lovely smiley Tamar and Cara greeted me on screen a few minutes before just so I knew their faces and for them to ask if I needed anything. Then staff from all over the area from all disciplines began to join, from Occupational Therapists, to social workers, care staff, learning disabilities and many more.
They gave me an hour to talk, but I always leave 10-15 minutes for questions at the end. The social care world is very underrated, underpaid and understaffed. Near the end of my talk I said…
“Yes it is a daunting job to transform social care, but then surely it was a daunting job to create the NHS in the first place, but it happened.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if social care was a job of choice, with recognition, status, and a value placed on the skills of the staff?”
I always end on a reading and for this one it was ‘the gift’ of dementia which I love reading. It was so wonderful to have so many disciplines from Adult social care on one screen. Apparently there were over 100 and at the very end they all opened their screens so I could see them and wave goodbye, which felt very special….
My next talk was in the afternoon with staff from the Ministry of Justice…..so a very different audience which I love. But a short walk was in order first to recover from the morning session
Although they’re only on screen, they really are equally exhausting as face to face which involves travelling and a longer time period.
Anyway…I was contacted by Darren Fearnley, who along with his job there is also the Carers Network Lead for the Ministry. (Nice to know they have one!)
They have been running a series of ‘Talking Heads’….according to Darren, a bit like the adorable multi talented playwrite Alan Bennett series on TV. I was hooked on that series. The one I remember most is the 1987 late Thora Hird’s appearance in ‘A Cream Cracker under the Sofa’…it was so memorably moving. I love all Alan Bennett’s work 🥰
Alan Bennett is also a Yorkshireman so what’s not to like about this gentle character. I must have watched all his work at various points in my life 🥰 and it’s made me think I should watch them again…
The series of talks at the Ministry of Justice have been run along the lines of The Human Library, having people, who staff may be prejudiced against, or know very little, speak to them, telling them about their lives. I love the concept of the Human Library for reducing stigma against so many groups. So often when you talk to people as human beings, all pre conceived ideas melt away and what you see before you is just that – another human being.
So hats off to the Ministry of Justice and Darren in particular for attempting to reduce bias against certain groups in society. So that’s where I fitted in. Wanting to reduce the stigma and change the associations they may have of people living with dementia…….
It seemed to go well once more. No faces revealed this time apart from Darren, but I suppose Ministry of Justice has stricter protocol for on line talks 🤔
I’d aimed to talk as a more gentle meander through dementia as I really couldn’t imagine how much the audience would know. But one question at the end was asking the difference between Alzheimers and dementia, which I’m always happy to answer as it confuses so many.
“Dementia is the umbrella term for all dementias, Alzheimers being just one and the most common but there are over 100 different types and it’s my belief that clinicians have yet to discover many more. Even though I’m diagnosed with mixed dementia, Alzheimers and Vascular, I believe I have traits from other types as well – sooo little is known about the brain compared to any other part of the body”
I’d forgotten how tiring I find two on lines in the same day. I felt wiped out half way through and remember at one stage having difficulty finding my words which weren’t on the paper – serves me right for going off piste 🤣…..
Darren finished the session off by asking them to put to one side their own stereotypical image, the image of someone with dementia as being old, sat in a care home watching telly and instead think of me wing walking……loved that ending