Let’s have a shag

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So I arrive at the hotel, chest, legs and back aching. Dear old Google maps had taken me nowhere for ten minutes.

“After 100yds turn left”.

Yes? After 100 yds in which direction? Please? Tell me.

A kind man agreed with me about the usefulness of the app to the walker, and pointed where I should go. Round the corner I saw a huge monstrous carbuncle sticking up on the horizon.

Coventry is undergoing a bit of remodelling, at least near the station. It needs it.

There are some lovely parts, I am sure, but this was not.

So I arrived at the hotel (carbuncle) and was (eventually) directed to the first floor for the meeting.

The lift (eventually) arrived. I stepped out into a hotel corridor, with several choices but no signage. Doors everywhere, narrow corridors, deserted…

I wandered around.

This was nothing to do with dementia. I am confident anyone would have found this foggy, unhelpful place annoying.

But it was a metaphor for dementia, yes, and for Coventry (at least the parts I saw).

No signposting.

No one to support and guide visitors.

Was I really in the right place? (No visual or other clues)

Some labels did appear end the corners…Jaguar Landrover…Efficiency Distribution…but none for NHS or Patients in Control.

I did, of course, find the room. The door was open and familiar faces and voices were inside. (The label for the room was wrong! They changed it after everyone had arrived.)

So I walked up to Vince and said Hello, let’s have a shag.

Hmm.

Smiles, hellos, laughter…make light of it…

What I of course meant was either shake (hands) or hug (each other). But my befuddled brain got it wrong. A little.

And that’s what happens when I lose control of conversations, surroundings…

I did a lot of shagging during the afternoon. It’s the new greeting for us.

Hi, let’s shag.

People generally would not know I have dementia. I have been really busy in recent weeks, and things have gone well. I’ve felt more confident, driving, talking, meeting…as long as I am on home ground or known and prepared subjects. Off piste…I shag.

Here in sunny Shropshire, where the lambs and daffodils are out, and we live in a pastoral idyll, things seem to move slowly for dementia change.

Small steps which you think are getting somewhere, gaining traction…then you slip on the mud and start again. I’m not going to change the world, but I want to see more progress before my old brain fuddles and mushes and I retire into the greenhouse.

It’s an honour and pleasure to work with some of the people I meet…and those running the Patients in Control project are no exception.

Wrapping services around patients is a no brainer. Putting patients in control of their lives enables them to live better – even well – with their conditions.

We’re trying to show CCG commissioners that providing services in different ways, co-produced with patients and carers, produces many benefits for everyone…

And it has to be whole system stuff. Not just health providers. Solve a person’s housing and debt problems and they’ll call 999 less often. Reduce another’s loneliness and they’ll have less admissions.

There are places where this is starting to happen. And the Vanguard projects will be the test beds for this transformation. But we cannot wait long. Shropshire, and others, have to get on with this work across borders and boundaries.

We all need to work together to make change happen.

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