It really is this simple. Just do it!

What are we going to do about wards filled with people living with dementia?

We’ve all know about the estimate that 25% of inpatients have a diagnosis of dementia.

We know that inpatients with dementia (not primary cause) stay in hospital three times longer than others.

We know that people living with dementia are often confused, disorientated and agitated by the unfamiliar and busy hospital environment.

We know that patients living with dementia need a lot more time, patience, explanation and reassurance about even routine treatments so they are not frightened.

We know that nursing and other staff are working under immense pressure, coping with ever increasing inpatient admissions.

That’s what we know.

I visited a respiratory ward the other day. Well over half the patients had a dementia diagnosis. On at least one bay they all did.

How should we deal with this?

If some wards are going to house more than average numbers of patients with dementia, let’s make those wards really dementia friendly.

Change the lighting. Put in orientation clocks in every bay, with the name of the hospital. Purchase bedside tables that are big enough for personal possessions and photographs.

Use patients’ favourite mugs. Have a nurse stationed in each bay. Write the staff names up large inside the bay.

Have a communal dining table/area and get folks out of bed. Have tea and cakes together.

Provide a homely area with reminiscence and other activities. Sing for the brain on the wards. They’ll love it.

Put up huge posters with local features on walls, to stimulate thoughts and talks.

Paint the walls different warm colours in each bay.

Have large, contrasty pictograms signage in the right places for patients to see. Paint non patient doors the same as walls.

Put in handrails along the whole ward to help mobility and independence.

Don’t move patients with dementia at night, or at all. Unless absolutely medically necessary.

Train all staff, all doctors, all volunteers so they really understand the social aspects of dementia, behaviours, causes of confusion and agitation, and how to provide the right care for these people.

I mean all staff to include housekeepers, porters, beds managers, administrative managers, premises staff, finance director…everyone must understand how they contribute, and how their decisions and actions affect patients living with dementia.

Provide sufficient and appropriate staff on these wards for the patients in them. In other words, flex with the changing needs of patients.

Provide specially trained dementia workers who work with staff and patients as and when and where needed.

Some of this costs money. Yes.

So do hospital stays of ten or more days beyond medical necessity.

So spend to care and spend to save.

Do the sums, the cost benefit analysis.

Remind yourself why you are paid, who by, who you work for.

It’s us. You work for us.

And it really is that simple.

Don’t make it difficult.

Just do it.

So how was it for you?


Well, my dog certainly enjoyed herself. Lupin the Vizsla had company, Betty the black lab, and they crunched their way through jumbones, chews, pigs’ ears, turkey, Brussels sprouts, anything they could find.

And they launched each other around the house, gnarling and chasing and marowling.

I cooked Christmas Lunch. After our oven died on Friday we used the gas barbecue, and the bird was really lusciously juicy and browned. (Also cooked an ace rib of beef on it the night before.)

Do that again next time.

The thing is, staying out of the drinking and laughing worked well. I just whizzed (or was it trudged?) to and fro, chopped veg, checked the turkey, made prawn cocktail (ah how retro), micro’d the ridiculously sweet, gooey pud, and avoided noise and natter.


And later drank calvados with my future, what, step brother in law? I’m not getting divorced…marriages are on the calendar next summer.

What have I learned this time?

Cooking is a great excuse for keeping out of the way, as long as everyone else keeps away from the kitchen!

I can no longer tolerate sharing cooking.

I can’t stand my children shouting jokes across the table…it just winds me up because I can’t keep up.

I can’t stand other people shouting conversation at each other.

I love my dog.

I love walking my dog alone.


I think people give far too many presents. (It’s becoming indecent.)

I like dinner parties of no more than six.

Better still, four.

I don’t like it when my children go back home.

My wife is remarkably tolerant of my moods.

Though not of my jokes.

Billy prepares for a dementia friendly Christmas….

Wendy, inspirational as ever. Happy Christmas.

Which me am I today?

I published this last Christmas….but have added a few new pictures of Billy  to bring it up to date for another outing this year…..


Wendy’s out Christmas shopping so I’ve commandeered the iPad to write my blog:)……..well if she leaves it switched on what does she expect!
I knew the month of December had arrived when Stuart got this huge box down from the loft. Once emptied of all the huge branches and baubles, it makes an excellent den – never quite understand why humans insist on filling boxes when they’re so much more useful empty…….

I sat in said box and supervised Stuart putting up the tree – I remember as a kitten climbing up said tree as I thought we needed to start a new tradition of ‘Cat on top of tree’ instead of fairy, but it didn’t take on…I tried again this year, but either the tree…

View original post 457 more words

Spare a thought for us this Christmas

I realise I haven’t been looking forward to Christmas this year.

I’ve been miserable.

Humbug, writ large.


Cards have been arriving in the post, people I work with giving them…

A little party at one trust, carols, thanks, all that…

I ducked the second, Christmassy, half of that one.

And now I know why.

It’s time to be happy, to meet people at parties, over dinner, in the street, and be happy.

And talkative.

To tell people what you’ve been up to, how the family are, ask about theirs…

And that means remembering…names, facts, events…which takes time.

Then the words to explain those events and feelings…

It takes effort.

Moray FirthRoss and Cromarty

Moray Firth Ross and Cromarty Scotland

On Saturday night this crystallised.

I can’t keep up any more. Not at all. I can’t get into conversations.

By the time I’ve thought of a word or idea they’ve all cut in, and my thought is, well, lost.

It’s a really slow process of, what, decline? deterioration? brain rot? …and I’ve written about this before.

Yes, I was feeling off my game anyway, tired and vaguely ill, and wishing I were at home…

I was with two very good friends and four whom I had not met before.

The usual rules of conversation are that you listen then speak, and in my case slowly, searching for the right phrase. The people I usually mix with know me now, but they also are kind and perceptive and give me a bit of extra time when I need it. And in normal situations I rarely do need it.


But these were just jumping in before others had finished, not listening, just shouting on about what they wanted us to know.

And I just switched off, closed down, wilted. Because I knew I didn’t have a cat’s chance of keeping up.

This must be true for thousands of others. At this time everyone’s so happy and joyful and jumping with enthusiasm to be happy and joyful and jumping in and up and down…


We’ve not got a chance really. We just have to sit back and watch, and think and reflect…

Not always positively.

It’s like when you’re the only one not drinking booze at a party. Those jokes and quips are funny to them but dull to you. You see through them.

And the house is filled with activity, stuff(ocation), people…mostly loved ones…noise, drinks, conversations, cooking, getting things synchronised…


Well I’ll be walking the dog, sitting in a quiet room, listening, watching Netflix, or something else this year, cos I’m not sure I can do it all this time.

Spare a thought for us.

You’ll be excited, and noisy, and joyful, and boozy. You’ll be the players.

Spectators in the stadium watching sports

Spectators in a sold out Barcelona football stadium Camp Nou during the match between FC Barcelona and FC Sevilla.

We’ll be in the spectator seats, watching. Trying to be cheerful, smiling when someone looks our way, saying yes, that’s lovely, a few times, and thinking it never used to be like this did it?

And we’ll know that’s gone for ever, and we’ll try to make the best of it, wondering what next year will be like.

Spare a thought. Just be kind and sensitive and give us time and space.

Happy 2017.