Category Archives: Education

First graduation of Masters Students…

Last week I was asked to attend Hull University as it was the very first graduation for the Masters in Dementia students at Hull. These students have both my books on their reading list and they’re both mandatory. It’s been an online course so students have been from not only all over the country, but all over the world as well.

Emma wasn’t picking me up until 08.45, so time for a little early walk first. It was suppose to have got cooler after the extreme temperatures of the previous days, but as I walked outside it still felt very warm even though it was early. 

I decided to do a figure of eight walk today, just to increase my little trundle a tad. Round to the back field where the sun was shining through the haze of morning cloud

Through the gate and down towards the pond, where many of the ducks were on the grass gathering patiently for breakfast…..

…..the odd one choosing to bide his time in the coolness of the water instead..

No sign of Terence and Teresa yet as I headed out and up through the houses…cutting through the snicket where a fledgling Robin sat on the fence

It was very quiet everywhere, not as many people about as on the previous meltingly hot days. The giant triffid of thistles now in flower

A barn owl flew by me having come from the church yard and heading for the barn in the stables. It was so low I could see it’s beautiful round face staring at me but it was too quick to catch a piccie and had disappeared before I could lift it up, so I simply stood and stared in wonder….

Down by the churchyard and towards the main road, then turning right instead of left towards home as I was heading back to the pond. Steve had been out and fed the ducks  and the Pochards were busy skimming the surface for afters..

One of the ducklings nearby looked as if it was mimicking their style 😂

The sun was casting a golden light on our lovely little pond…

Back around the pond retracing my steps; the ducks now preening and beginning to settle for their post breakfast snooze…

As I reached the back field and almost home, I could see a woman and her two dogs heading towards me; the only person I’d seen on my trundle. As I tried to concentrate on her face to see if I knew her, I caught a white flash out of the corner of my eye….another barn owl hunting for breakfast at the edge of the field. I stood stock still dropping my stick to the ground and tried desperately to zoom in and catch it in flight. I managed it but no super clear, but clear enough for me…

As the woman reached me, it became apparent she’d seen it too and had stood and watched it….

What an early morning treat that was!” She beamed at me before heading on her way…..a lovely way to end my trundle…..

Emma was right on time. We chatted about the success of the course, how It’s the only online masters course that has a dying with dementia module ⭐️….how the students have come from so many professions, Gp, social work, hospice care and a huge variety of others. It must be so nice for the students to be able to talk to other professions as they’d rarely get a chance in their busy work life. 

Sadly the heatwave along with huge problems on the trains, meant that many, many students couldn’t travel to the celebration. One had travelled all the way from America for her graduation. The graduation itself had been last Monday so they all melted in their cap and gowns, but I imagine it was a happy meltdown…the following two days had been celebration days and this is where I entered the room.

They just arrived and were busy catching up with their new found face to face friends now

One woman was a speech and language therapist and she’d brought her adorable guide dog, Heidi, along with her

I sat on one of the tables to have a drink and a chat . Their enthusiasm and new found knowledge was emanating from each and every one of them. Some had started the course with little or no knowledge of dementia and now here they were having graduated 🙌

The time came for me to give my talk….I’d written half an hours worth. Emma had said how they often hear students saying they feel overwhelmed- there are so many things that need changing to improve care, how can one person make a difference? ….so I ended my talk by offering 3 suggestions. Three pleas from me to them as they now enter their work place with their extra qualification…and explained each one as I did

Don’t make assumptions simply because we have dementia

Think carefully about the language you use to anyone

Live in our world as we can’t live in yours.

I ended by saying:

Throughout your lives there will all be situations or people who want to bring you down. But when they do, just think back to this day and how proud you felt at what you’ve achieved, think of all the smiles around you. When life gets tough never  give up on yourselves – they’ll be plenty of others who’ll do that for you. Even when something bad happens in your life, you just have to look at life in a different way. You hopefully learn from it, turn the negatives into positives just as I try to do. After all who would have thought students would be having to read my 2 Sunday Times best sellers  as part of your course to get here today. And you never know, one day I may need help from you in your professional roles or need to be in your care, I’ll be relying on you to get it right….”

Some of the wonderful class of 2022…

Extra blog for the weekend…..

I couldn’t fit this in anywhere else so I’m afraid I’m clogging your inbox at the weekend 🙄

I’ve often wished and asked for the Recovery College to consider changing it’s name. After all, you don’t ‘recover’ from dementia and I don’t personally believe you ‘recover’ from mental illness or grief. I think you learn to live with it instead, but just my thoughts.

So when I do my own free sessions for the college, I like to think of it as ‘Recovering from the negative process of being diagnosed with dementia’. After all it is a negative process, concentrating on our negatives, the cells that have died or become clogged up in our brain, and forgetting all about those millions of cells we still have left….

Anyway, once again, the time has come to deliver another of our Living with dementia sessions. I say ‘our’ as I couldn’t do it without my wonderful partner in delivering, Catherine Hart, assistant director of research and development at Humber NHS Trust.

Because we’re doing it online once more, it means anyone from anywhere in the UK (sorry overseas buddies), can enrol and book a free place.

It’s on July 19th 10.30-12.30 on Microsoft Teams

You need to register via the website

https://humberrecoverycollege.nhs.uk/

My page looks like this

If you have any problems please email Hnf-tr.recoverycollege@nhs.net

A community event in Leeds…

I’d had a few bad days in a row and these days, I seem to cope with them by walking miles, just me and nature for company. It had been like that for the days prior to this and I’d walked miles, just to prove to myself, I could, and also to be outside where I always feel dementia is diluted . Inside it feels oppressive And all around me.

So last Tuesday I decided to give my legs a rest. As I woke the clock blinked 03.50 at me, but there would be no sunrise walk this morning. I’d had an incredible one the day before

I closed my eyes and simply relaxed until 6.

I’d been invited to a community dementia event in Leeds by Tim Sanders, Commisoning programme lead for Leeds Council. Pre Covid, I’d done several community events for him around the area according to my blogs and today was the first since Covid changed our lives

What I love about Tims events are the variety of people. There’s always someone with lived experience, a care partner, a Gp, someone from the memory clinic and local voluntary organisations.

The perfect mix and Tim always warns the professionals to use everyday language and bans technical lingo or abbreviations 👍⭐️

He’s also very good at meeting my needs and had sent me a detailed email of what, when and where everything was happening.

My head still wasn’t right, still hazy, but a different environment might help along with seeing different people.

The taxi arrived all chirpy and happy, saying the last time he’d picked me up he’d run out of petrol and just was glad we were going downhill …🤣 wish I remembered that as it must have been so funny 😂

The train to Hull was on time but once I reached Hull there seemed to be an awful lot of people milling around 😳….I checked the board and thankfully it wasn’t my train that had been cancelled but the Manchester train. However it did mean my train would be doubly full as all the Manchester folk would be going to Leeds to get a connection 🙄

As I boarded I felt so sorry for some people off on their hols via Manchester airport. There were many panicking, asking the time, the details, the fact they’d left in plenty of time and now they were pushed 🙈 One woman was on her own and she got chatting to another couple who apparently were going on the same flight – how random is that! So she was at least able to find playmates to help share the stress.

Everyone finally settled as we passed by the Humber

I got off at Garforth and Tim was on the platform to meet me. We had plenty of time as the event didn’t start for another hour, plenty of time for setting up……well…that’s how it should have been 🥴

As we arrived at the venue in Rothwell, there was no sign of life. All the doors were locked and the inside was in darkness 😳….maybe the caretaker was just running late….?
Tim calmly panicked, rang people and even rang the number on the wall outside, which actually took him to a betting shop 😳🤣 People started arriving, a woman who had spent all day apparently baking amazing cup cakes had arrived with a car load. Stall holders arrived with banners, laden with leaflets and still no one arrived 🙈

Eventually the audience started to arrive as well 🤯….suddenly an hour later and with two minutes before we were suppose to start, someone spotted movement inside the building….

“Ay up, is ‘ere…” shouted someone (well we are in Yorkshire!), amidst cheers and relief everyone piled in. It was suddenly like a military operation as the urn went on, chairs were laid out, tables for the stall holders and one for my books appeared.

I chatted to the audience to get out of the organised chaos behind me and 20 minutes later we started 🥵 and I was first up! 🤣

Before I stood, Tim apologised for keeping everyone, but it didn’t seem to worry them; they could have left but they all stayed waiting patiently. Pauline, the local ‘organiser of everything’ told people to pleeeease help themselves to the cuppa cakes in the interval and the woman had spent all day baking them and there’d be tea and coffee once the urn had heated up…..I couldn’t wait to see these amazing cup cakes 🤔

The chatter stopped, heart beats went back to normal and it was me up first. Because we’d started late I missed out a chunk in the hope that others would do the same. One bit I didn’t miss out was one of my explanations of dementia:

We have a complex brain disease, our experiences are individual. Image the brain as a string of fairy lights. Each fairy light representing a different function of the brain. Some lights flicker on and off – dementia affecting our ability to do something one day and then we’re able to the next. But when the light fail altogether that’s when dementia has won and has taken that ability away for good. But different fairy lights flicker and fail for each of us. That’s why I can type and other can’t; that’s why they still cook and I can’t; that’s why they still feel hunger and I don’t. That’s why I can speak and they can’t. I can type words far quicker than I can think and speak them because that part of my brain hasn’t been affected others can’t type but can speak better than me. If I didn’t have these words in front of me I’d be floundering. Typing is my escape from dementia.”

….and I’m so glad I didn’t as many came up to me afterwards saying they at last understood why people were all different….😍

Next up was the Gp who won and lost brownie points at various stages of his talk. But he explained what happened in his surgery if you go there with memory issues. He then added, quite rightly, as he was about to lose another brownie point, how sometimes it can be a case of “just feeling there’s something not quite right”. He stressed it’s not always dementia, it could be many other things so never be worried about coming to see us. He spoke of the need to attend the yearly annual reviews on offer
He ended by telling us some ‘breaking news’ as that very morning they’d just appointment their first Admiral Nurse – instant brownie point.
Sadly he lost many of his brownie points as the questions which followed showed how people didn’t know annual reviews existed and had never had one; complaints about not being able to get an appointment; even one chap who been diagnosed the week before lockdown who hasn’t been able to see his Gp since 😢…..none of that was surprising as our Gps are under as much pressure as the rest of the NHS…but still very sad…

The Gp had to dash off, but up next was Dr Alex from the Memory service.

What a refreshingly honest consultant. He said how you only know for sure if someone has had dementia through an autopsy when you die, so our work involves our expertise in making a good and as accurate ‘guess’ as we can with the details we see in front of us. He also stressed they were only commissioned to be a diagnosis service, so that’s why there were no follow ups with them. He was animated and smiley. No doom and gloom but didn’t hide the struggles either.

I chatted to him after and how I wish all Old age Consultant Psychiatrists were like him – loads of brownie points.

It must then have been time for a break as I started to flag and I realised I couldn’t have had a cuppa since I’d left home 😳….but also time to see these wonderful buns….

Well, we were spoilt for choice. The woman must adore baking and to do it all for free was so generous and wonderful of her. A small army of women were behind the counter serving teas and coffees and stressing:

And help yourself to those wonderful cupcakes” I actually think no one would have dared not to have one 🤣

I hunted out this culinary wonder of a woman, hiding in the back, just to say thank you….☺️ then went to sit down and sold many books and had many chats with people before we started up again.

After a much needed break, Carers Leeds took to the floor, telling carers to take care of themselves and about all the services in their area, which seem to be many.
Then it was Pauline ‘organiser extraordinaire’ Hope.

She spoke of the legacy of someone that she’d taken up the mantle to ensure those affected by dementia had many things in the area to take part in.
Last but not least, it was the carer who poignantly told the story of himself and his wife Audrey. From the time they first met, to her last days living with dementia. He ended by reading a beautiful poem he’d written about the lonely nights without her, but ended by saying, but she’s always there in his heart…….

Well what a wonderful event eventually! It had all the right mix of people so Tim had done a wonderful job as usual. AND the buns were amazing

I was exhausted as I sat in Leeds station waiting for my train. But my taxi was waiting for me as I arrived in Beverley and the town cows had just finished their round of golf and were lazing and grazing on the 18th hole as we passed by finally on my way back home

Leeds Roadshow……at the right time 🙄

Must have got in a right pickle setting this one as it was published early morning 🙄 anyway here it is again at the right time..😂

I’m sure it must have been pre Covid era when I last did a roadshow in Leeds 🤔.I have vague recollections of doing 2, maybe 3 in different parts of Leeds organised by Tim Sanders, Commissioning Programme Lead, Dementia, NHS Leeds Clinical Commissioning Group / Leeds City Council ( long badge needed😳)

Well they have restarted these face to face meetings. I like them because of the variety of speakers they always get. There is always someone living with dementia, a care partner, a GP, someone from the memory clinic and others, all relatable and really useful – well as long as they say the right things in the right language 🥴.

On Tuesday June 28th I’ll be heading to Leeds, this time Rothwell district for the first roadshow in a very long time.

So if you live in or around this area and are affected by dementia in any way, or simply want to learn more, please do come along and say hello. Here’s the program:

Leeds Roadshow……

I’m sure it must have been pre Covid era when I last did a roadshow in Leeds 🤔.I have vague recollections of doing 2, maybe 3 in different parts of Leeds organised by Tim Sanders, Commissioning Programme Lead, Dementia, NHS Leeds Clinical Commissioning Group / Leeds City Council ( long badge needed😳)

Well they have restarted these face to face meetings. I like them because of the variety of speakers they always get. There is always someone living with dementia, a care partner, a GP, someone from the memory clinic and others, all relatable and really useful – well as long as they say the right things in the right language 🥴.

On Tuesday June 28th I’ll be heading to Leeds, this time Rothwell district for the first roadshow in a very long time.

So if you live in or around this area and are affected by dementia in any way, or simply want to learn more, please do come along and say hello. Here’s the program:

Mental Health in the workplace Conference……

It’s been a somewhat ‘challnging’ week, but I wasn’t done yet as yesterday I was in London at an Conference for Employers entitled “It Can Happen”. I’d been asked to speak as part of a panel on the role of the workplace when a member of staff is diagnosed with dementia. Also on the panel was Victoria Lyons, an Admiral nurse from Dementia UK, Molly Howe’s, the co-chair of a carers network at the company, Aviva and Colin Gant, an employee of Aviva who is a carer.

We’d all met online prior to the conference and had set our agenda and the part each of us would play. Can’t remember the last time I actually went in person to a conference, so it would be interesting to see how I coped with so many people.

The day dawned to the most beautiful morning. It was forecast to be a scorchio one especially in London. My taxi was due at 05.45 as I was catching the first train of the day to London. I was having my cuppa and thought I’d just check my train………those terrible words appeared before me….

😳……I really couldn’t think of what to do other than turn up and see what happens next 🙈 My driver arrived and he asked where I was going today as he’d also heard the train was cancelled…then when I arrived at the station, Michelle, the telephoning was stood outside waiting, which was unusual, but as soon as I got out of the car, she asked me where I was going. Once she knew I was heading for London, she said:

You need to get in that car Wendy as they’ve arrange for a cab to take you further down the line to pick up the same train”

Well I just did as I was told, not really understanding what was happening. It turned out I was the only one who’d turned up at the station so I had the cab to myself. Others probably saw it was cancelled and decided not to travel, who knows. But there then followed a journey that made my heart sing. Michelle had told him I had dementia, so to look after me 😊…..We got chatting and realised we were much of a muchness in age. He’d asked me where I was from and I said Pontefract originally. We shared our love of liquorice as children, Pontefract being the home of Pontefract cakes, small round discs of liquorice with ‘Pontefract cakes’ stamped around the edge ; discussed handbags on the dance floor of Kiku’s nightclub in the town and then he suddenly said his father had dementia. He began by saying that all he remembered was laughter and happy memories; yes, there was bad times but why would he want to remember them 😍

On the 30 minute journey, he told me story after story about his dad. The one that stayed in my mind until I could get my ipad out on the train was of the gorilla in the garden…..

Me and my brother popped round to see my dad and he suddenly said, “there’s a gorilla in the garden go, get it out”…..my brother told him not to be stupid, there’s no gorilla, but I went outside, grabbed a branch and started beating the tree and running round the garden. I came back inside and told dad it’s gone and he was happy” 😍

My response was “You were so right, you have to live in our world as we can’t live in yours”.

I was sat in the back, but could see his eyes filling with tears in the mirror and his hand leaving the wheel to wipe them away. I wish I could remember all the wonderful stories he told me as he really did get it. He made a promise to his dad that he’d look after him until the end and he did.

As I got out of the taxi, my tummy aching from the laughter, I gave him a hug and said:

“I won’t remember all the lovely things you’ve told me, but what I will remember it what a lovely man you were, who made me laugh like a drain”

As I turned I could see the tears welling once more and left…..

I stood on the platform while I got my bearings and realised we were at Brough…I walked down to the notice board and could see we’d arrived with 2 minutes to spare before the train was due – good job I didn’t realise that 😂 I glanced down the line and could see the lights of the train in the distance.

I looked up to the sky….beautiful….I felt relaxed once more

At the next station, 4 women got on and their seats were opposite me. They were non stop chatterers….I did think of moving to a quieter place but their conversation became entertaining…..one wanted the toilet, but didn’t like shutting the door in case she couldn’t get out again. Another agreed saying she never knew how to get out of train loos…😳

“If I go to the loo, will you stand guard by the door?”

I imagine this queue of 4 with someone standing guard. I got up, smiled at them and said:

Well before you ladies start forming an orderly queue, I’ll go use the toilet”

Do you want us to stand guard?” They all piped up in chorus, and they were still laughing when I went back to my seat…😂

Once in London, I decided to walk, thinking it might be hot and uncomfortable on the underground. I was heading for the Angel, so a quick trip on the tube and I’d looked the night before at the possibility of walking and it look,ed like one straight road taking 25 minutes. I’d set my app to help me. I’d already thought of a plan B if I got in a muddle, just head back to Kings Cross and get the tube.

Zoe, one of the conference organisers, had emailed me all the details and I had her details in my phone as a back up. As I entered the hot London air, it struck me how busy it was and how noisy. I set my app running and walked with it alongside, holding tightly in my hands. It wasn’t long before sirens roared by making me stagger back to the wall. I then felt my ears – no hearing aids 🙈…..but then I thought back through the images at home and could see I’d put my hearing aids on top of my bag 🤔 I stopped, propped my bag on an edge of a sloping wall and rummaged around inside hoping they’d fallen to the bottom of my bag……result, they had. Smiling to myself and put them in and suddenly I was in a different world. Yes, still a busy, noisy hot one, but the piercing sounds no longer existed because of my hearing aids. I would talk about hyperacusis but if you’ve only recently joined my blog, either search for it, or just ask me in the comments box.

I’d forgotten the fumes from all the static traffic, merging with the heat and how overpowering the streets were. But at least my walk was now calmer. I kept glancing down at my app, making sure I was still a dot on the highlighted road, the roaring heat beating down on me until natures own canopy arrived in the form of a line of trees. Half an hour later I came to the building I’d already had as a photo so it would look familiar when I was looking at it

Someone immediately approached me and asked where I was going and pointed in the direction of the escalator. Upstairs, the building was fascinating. The ornate window, now inside, was built to house the growing Smithfield Club cattle market originally

The reception provided me with a speakers badge and I immediately headed for a cuppa just to settle myself, snapping the programme as I went

Zoe, one of the organisers saw me and asked what I’d like to do…..
The conference was in progress but one speaker was about to finish and another start. For each session there was a choice of 3. I decided on the Female Neurodiveristy in the workplace. What is wonderful about this conference is that each session has people telling their own story, as well as a an expert clinician in that field. For this one it was ADHD, Aspbergers, Dyxlexia and autism.

They each told their story of how they were diagnosed, the struggles they encountered getting a diagnosis, and the issues they each had at work and what they wished had happened. They were each saying how they all wondered why they were different, why they were the way they were.. what they said didn’t surprise me. In an ideal world, companies would understand the needs of their workers with these conditions. But of course, we don’t live in an ideal world. Sharing your story at work has to feel safe. Career development proved difficult for one due to pre conceptions and assumptions.

It can impact your mental health if you don’t have understanding around you as you’re continually trying to prove yourself otherwise. Women in the workplace often have to prove themselves anyway alongside their male counterparts, but with a neuro condition as well, it’s doubly exhausted. Add into the equation either monthly period issues or menapausal symptoms and you really do need understanding at work as we spend most of our day there.

It did start to niggle away that they had to switch to a hand mike as their ear free hands mikes didn’t work 😳…..I get in a right muddle if I’m holding a piece of paper with the speech on and a mike 🙈

How do you communicate what you need at work?” Said one contributor. She answered her own questions by saying: “It needs an open and compassionate culture…”

Peer support at work”…was mentioned. It provides a safe place for people to meet others and they don’t have to pretend be the person they think they should be.

it’s powerful stories that make employers sit up and listen”

At the end of this session a guest speaker Jo Bellman, podcaster. He read a wonderful poem about his mum who died of cancer and the grieving that nearly finished his career through lack of understanding.

It was the tea break time. I followed everyone else but the merging of 3 rooms into one felt like noisy chaos, so I got my tea and went into the Green Room which was LOVELY and quiet and had much nicer biscuits 🤣 A woman then entered the room looking bright and summery. I vaguely recognised her, or there was something familiar about her. One of the staff then called her by name, Sian……I then realised she was Sian Williams, who interviewed me for Channel 5 news as part of her weekly mental health segment. I googled her to double check and sure enough it was her. I went over and said hello and she recognised me, giving me a hug.

It was lovely to chat to her again, so lovely.

Then a lovely smiley technical man arrived with his clip board once we were all there

Suddenly Molly, one of my fellow panellists said about her notes – thank goodness she did as mine were still in my haversack 🥵…..

Victoria from Dementia UK guided me to through the room, we were fitted with our mikes, then shown on the stage, our faces and names up on screen behind us just as with the last session.

Although it was an hour, it went by in a flash, with each of us telling our story, my lived experience, Colins as a carer, Molly as a workplace manager and Victoria from Dementia UK. We could, have course have gone on for hours, and questions came through on a screen in front of us as the audience were able to be interactive with the discussion but thankfully Victoria was in charge of monitoring that 😂 – there was about 100 in the room by my reckoning, and those on line, about 700 between the 3 stages.

The organiser who spoke at the end said I’d given her her new mantra as I’d finished with:

Never give up on yourself….”

After our session it was lunch time and delegates flooded out for food and a chance to chat to each other. Victoria took a selfie of us for social media…..

I looked at the crowd and decided to call it a day and head back to the station. As I stepped outside the building, the air conditioned building, the intense heat knocked whacked me in the face as an aircraft flew low over the buildings heading to some far off land…

I had a couple of hours before my train and tootled up the side of Kings Cross towards the canal….well actually, I didn’t realise it led o the canal until I got there…

But the heat was too intense for me and along with no breeze felt very oppressive. I ambled back down the other side and was glad to get back inside the station and sat and watched the world go by from the upstairs……

It had been a long time since I’d been to a conference with so many people but Mental Health in the Workplace is so important and this company had put on a wonderful conference.

On the way home I was playing solitaire on the train, feeling a tad discombobulated probably due to a combination of the heat and the long day. I must have played the whole journey as the next thing I saw was a sign flash up on my screen

Low battery”

Unplugging my phone, I plugged in my ipad for the last couple of stations, red Jack on black Queen……I looked up and was grateful to see the River Humber staring back at me….not long now but me thinks I might pay the price for a lovely day tomorrow….worth it though….
Red 8 on black 9…..

York Festival of Ideas……

I’ve been asked to attend this event before, looking back at my blog. It’s a marvellous event offering 150 FREE events for those living in and around York and this year, to anyone on line for some of them too.

My event is in the City Library, really convenient for the station and anyone visiting the city. I used to spend hours in there when I lived in York. The event is Monday, 13th June 2 – 3pm

The Holbein Charitable Fund sponsor this annual event and the University of York were the ones to establish and lead the event since 2011 and still do today.

I’d love to meet anyone in the area at the time. The event is free but you still need to book a ticket as seats are limited. York is such a fabulous city to visit at any time as there’s something for everyone. When I lived there it felt like ‘being on holiday and never going home’…

Search for my event on their website brochure

p.s. 2 sleeps to go….everything crossed for the weather to allow it to take place 🙏

https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/wendy-mitchell-1?utm_term=zrARqqy33

PPs….or is it? ..read my blog Monday to find out if I was able to do it…..

A talk to Adult social care staff plus Talking Heads for the Ministry of Justice…..

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

A host of sparrows were hovering over the seed heads below….

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

Another Recovery College opportunity….

The lovely Acho from the Recovery College had asked if me and Cathryn were up for another double act. They’ve all been via Microsoft Teams lately and we did think about having a face to face this time, but sadly we’re both so busy that it’s much more efficient for us both to do it on line for now and it means we can open up to others outside our area, but sadly only those in the UK – sorry my overseas pals.

Keep having to use this old piccie of us as we havn’t seen one another in ages!

And so the date we decided upon is Tuesday 19th July 10.30 -12.30 online via Microsoft Teams. So if anyone would like to join us for our session on Living with Dementia you’d be more than welcome but you need to register even though it’s free. So click the link below and it will take you to the right page

https://humberrecoverycollege.nhs.uk/

You have to sign up and register simply so they know genuine people are enrolling for our sessions….

Anyone can attend – those affected by dementia, healthcare professionals or anyone with a curiosity to learn more.

….or if you have any queries beforehand you can email them on:

HNF-TR.RecoveryCollege@nhs.net

A trip back to my childhood town…..

I can’t remember how or where I first met Laura from Yorkshire Ambulance 🤔….but I’d made a couple of training videos for their staff and public alike, the link to one is below…

Some time later Laura invited me to speak at their Dementia Campaign Celebration. It had been cancelled a couple of times I think, due to Covid and pressures on the service, so quite rightly so. But eventually a date was set of Thursday 5th May – last week.

I couldn’t believe my eyes when I read where they were having it…….Pontefract! My childhood home town 😳. I havn’t been back for years, probably since my parents died. I was so excited at the prospect.

I had to put out a post on the village Facebook page the night before, telling my neighbours not to panic if they see me being helped into an ambulance along with a suitcase 🤣….Craig was picking me up in an ambulance needed for the event and the suitcase was full of my books should anyone wish to purchase one.

I went to secondary school in Pontefract, the girls high school as it used to be then as we hadn’t been transported into the comprehensive system back then. I loved it there and my brother went to the boys equivalent, the boys grammar school – Kings School – and the event was being held at The Kings Croft Hotel, very near to his old school.

School days of my years were free from social media, mobile phones etc and I took pleasure instead in all the sports available. Playground bullying, yes, cyber bullying, thankfully no. But any misdemeanours were punished by a visit to the Headmistresses office – Mrs Molly Jackson. I always thought ‘Molly’ was too cute a name for her as she went everywhere with long strides and a flowing batman cape billowing behind her 🤣 We had to wait against the wall outside her office – a red light above her door meant ‘don’t you dare enter’ and a green light invited you to knock and wait for the command to ‘come in’.

Soo many traditions at my old school and I loved traditions; you knew where you stood with traditions…for example the last hymn of every term was always Jerusalem. Assembly was always at 9am and each year had their place sat on the floor. It wasn’t until you reached the mighty realms of the 6th form that you could actually sit in a chair – first year 6th, down the middle of the hall in twos and final year 6 were promoted to the stage……

I had some wonderful times at school…..I wonder if you can pick me out…..the first when I was in the first year

…and this one in my final year…

I’d totally forgotten that school uniform rules were relaxed in our final year 🤔…very ahead of its time…🤔

Anyway, enough of my wistful reminiscences….back to present time…

Originally I was due to meet playmate Gail for the very first time at this event, but sadly she’d had to cancel. But we promised each other that we really WOULD meet one day…

Craig was due to pick me up at 8am. It was 04.30 when I woke. I lay there, toying with the idea of going for a walk but resisted in the end, instead, having my shower and purposely not looking out of my window first. When I did, I could see that for once in several days, it was going to be a lovely clear sunny morning 🙄 with wisps of clouds instead of a wall to wall grey…

Oh well….tomorrow may be even nicer…I put my washing on so I could hang it out before I went and snuggled back in bed with a cuppa, going through my morning routine…

When Craig arrived I was met by a lovely smiley eyed masked ambulance man. I immediately took a selfie 😂 just to set Craig straight for the day ahead.

Off we set….we chatted happily for about an hour about this that and everything – such a lovely friendly caring chap – until suddenly, I started to recognise the surroundings – my childhood home…..Box Lane appeared and I remembered Hilda Pickersgill from the wool shop used to live in the post office on the corner. I used to go and ‘help out’ in the wool shop every Saturday morning, probably while my mum was at work or shopping but I soo loved it ‘playing shops’…….

Then we arrived at the hotel, and I’m sure, my brother will correct me if I’m wrong, but it looked like the place we met after my mums funeral 🤔

….after a piccie in front of our ambulance with Craig

And then with Laura who had been doing all this work

I went for a wander around the grounds…..the views were lovely

And also a twisted marvellous ancient looking tree…

I could have sat out here all day snapping away…..but I made my way went back into the room. I said to Laura how sad it was Gail wasn’t there and bless me, she led me to a board…and there was Gail’s face staring back at me – wonderful…..so I did manage to get a sort of hug from her after all…

The event began and I opened the day ending with my Billy the cat reading from my first book as I hadn’t read it in ages…….their applause was much appreciated.

It was then the turn of Cherry Tatlow from the Alzheimers society…….Who sadly made me sad……when she kept saying, ‘Alzheimer’s or dementia’ – Alzheimer’s IS a dementia…..such a basic mistake which will continue to confuse people if those who are suppose to know, don’t get it right……dementia is the umbrella term for all the different types of dementia including Alzheimers…

Then Karen Owen from Yorkshire ambulance spoke oodles of praise for the lovely Laura and the wonderful work she’d done along with the team. And she mentioned a phrase Laura had said to her:

Getting it right for people with dementia means you get it right for everyone” – perfect..

Then it was the turn of the Blue Light theatre company…..all ambulance people but in a charity amateur dramatic group….they performed a wonderful little play about dementia with lots of laughs and said and did all the right things 🥰…….2 different stories intertwined ..one of a young couple with the dad diagnosed and a mans mum having dementia…..very well done 🙌. that could have been sooo naff but instead was one of the best I’ve seen ⭐️ And I went and told them so afterwards before they left…

It was then time to do some work on scenarios but me and Prof Clare Surr from Leeds Beckett and another researcher whose name escapes me 🙈 went to look round the ambulances….the first was the Patient transport ambulance but I had to stop in my tracks as the slope up into the vehicle was black – apparently I hesitated and looked fearful, which Clare knew wasn’t me……

So that was really interesting….and fascinating to learn all they do……

Back to the workshop, we had to look at images and say which represented dementia best……some we didn’t think any did but it was an really interesting activity.

After an amazing lunch, which went down very well with everyone, people chatting and just enjoying the face to face experience with their colleagues again……. it was time for the final speech….the Trust has supported this event to the full and want to make a difference

So Kathy the chairman of the board for Yorkshire ambulance – said the final words, how the joy of today was seeing people not on a screen and reconnecting in person. The pandemic affected us all and not always in a good day….they put up with the demand in a way not thought possible. She made us laugh and she made us want to cry. In the middle of Covid they took on getting the Yorkshire ambulance to be dementia appropriate. At the time they wondered why when so much else is happening and it was Laura who convinced her why….

People with dementia need the ambulance staff as much as anyone else – we need to be compassionate to all our patients”
And so the day was over friendships reunited, people giving hugs, and simply chatting, just as it all used to be before Covid changed the world…..and as they all scattered back to their individual roles once more, the over riding message came…..

We must do it again!” And hopefully they will….

P.S. well did you spot me? In the first photo, I’m in the middle row, 3rd from the left and in the second, I’m in the top row 3rd from the left….☺️