Jack Coutts of the Liverpool Dementia Action Alliance telling us about dementia and coping strategies for it.
“My wife describes this as the day I went out to work and never came home”. This chilling sentence came from a talk given by Tommy, a Liverpool Dementia Action Alliance (LDAA) campaigner who described how his world got smaller and smaller until the crunch day came when he was due to make a presentation to senior colleagues, a task he did routinely, and totally froze. This was almost the final step in a progression which took him from a fierce interest in world affairs and foreign holidays to the point where he was only interested in friends and family and didn’t want to leave the house.
This is not such a sad story, however, because Tommy was describing how he coped with dementia and was still living well, doing things, campaigning, being active because of his own determination and the love and care of his family.
The talk was given by Tommy at a meeting to stablish a Dementia Friendly Neighbourhood in Liverpool 18 set up by Erica Kemp and Jack Coutts from the LDAA. Why did we do it? Because in the wider L18 area more than 500 people are currently existing with dementia in one form or another. This number will grow year by year. Almost everyone knows a friend or family member who has dementia. 30% of us will have dementia before we die even if it is only a mild form.
Too often people with dementia are ignored, because their condition is not immediately apparent or patronised because the assumption is that they have lost all their mental faculties. Most people can cope but will cope better if we can recognise dementia and develop techniques and strategies.
That’s why the audience on Tuesday included local businesses, churches, solicitors, voluntary groups, GPs, dentists, pharmacists and a wide range of people who understand not only that there are things they can do but that they have a role to play in doing things. If every business on Allerton Road knew how to detect those with dementia and trained their staff in how to deal with people who have it the world would both be a better place for those people but would also be a better place for the businesses who would be confident in their training and approach.
That is why one of the offers given by Jack Coutts of the LDAA was to visit any business or organisation who wants support to train their staff to be dementia friends. Jack can be contacted at email@example.com not only by business and groups in L18 but anywhere in Liverpool. The Alzheimer’s Society have a wide range of publications which explain what dementia is and how coping strategies can be developed.
It seems to me that this is a great example of what we can do in all localities to cope with the strains ad stresses of the health service. It is naïve to suggest that we will always be able to find all the money we need to run health in the way that we do now. This was confirmed to me in a number of meetings I have had with clinicians and other health service professionals in the past few weeks. We need to do more in the community; we need to do more in the family and as Tommy showed we need to do more for ourselves.
When I launch the Lib Dem manifesto for Liverpool next week it contains many ideas about how self-help can work and how we can use other professionals such as chemists, opticians and dentists to augment the work of GPs and other clinicians. It will appear on my website http://www.richardkemp.org.uk.
Erica and Jack and all the people in the Liverpool Dementia Action Alliance and especially people like Tommy who are prepared to publicly share their experience are doing a marvellous job. If you want to help develop this activity in L18 please contact Erica at Erica.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Remember with 30% of people getting dementia at some time YOU might be a beneficiary at some time in the future of the measures we are putting in place today.