The story of a cock and a bull

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Walking Lupin through the woods the other day, squelching and sliding through mud and drifts of leaves, I fell to thinking about Tristram Shandy, a great 18th century novel by Laurence Sterne. Biting satire and wit. I loved it as a student, along with Swift’s “Modest Proposal” to deal with child poverty and hunger. (Eat the children!)

These pieces of writing have inspired my writing and perhaps my values all my adult life. I see irony and metaphor everywhere. I can’t take serious people seriously. 

When I left one teaching job I read a paragraph about a cock and a horse from Tristram Shandy. I regret that now, but at the time I was so fed up with certain staff that it just made sense. But it was not a sensible or honourable way to behave. 

“cock-and-bull story noun [ C ]

UK /ˌkɒk.ən.bʊl ˈstɔː.ri/ US /ˌkɑːk.ən.bʊl ˈstɔːr.i/ informaldisapproving

 

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I have only left one job in my life which I truly was sad to give up. And it was a decision I regretted for a year, until a really great opportunity came along…as a result. But every other place of work has become a place of frustration, anger and impotence, because I could not change behaviours and systems to what I believed was right. And better.

Where am I going with this? 

To my dearly beloved Shropshire Clinical Commissioning Group, or any other commissioner of health or social care, that refuses to implement meaningful, personalised support for people living with dementia to enable them to live as they choose, and as well as they can.

No, I’m not employed by the CCG, or anyone else, so I have no contractual influence on decisions.

Yes, I am one of 320,000 people living in Shropshire.

No, there is no strong reason why the CCG should listen to me more sympathetically than to anyone else.

Yes, the CCG does have a responsibility to provide evidence based health care to their population.

No, the CCG and the Council do not have enough funding.

And yet, and yet…

Yes, there are 3,700 people living with dementia in Shropshire, and

No, there is next to no commissioned support for people affected by dementia until a crisis happens, and 

Yes, providing a social model of support after diagnosis for the years that follow would save at least three times the cost.

Yes…there is evidence.

Yes, we would have fewer hospital admissions, fewer GP visits, later transfers to care homes, fewer care givers collapsing.

But no, these commissioners, whom we pay to act for us, refuse to listen.

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They have closed their doors and curtains so they don’t have to meet us, and listen to us.

They no longer come to our meetings.

They take months to reply to formal letters, and only then after our MP has asked twice.

When they do answer, their letter is full of grand sounding, jargonistic hot air, statements that imply they work to support us, explaining what they are going to do soon…

(And then another email comes through saying they have to postpone a meeting or an appointment.)

They say they will evaluate a dementia navigator pilot after it finishes. Not before, after. That means that regardless of the evaluation over 100 people will lose the support the navigators provide. The two navigators will lose their jobs. And the evaluation will likely take six to nine months. Probably too late for the subsequent commissioning cycle.

So two years before a navigator might start again. Lost expertise and knowledge.

We have had no dementia commissioning manager for eighteen months. So no one is dedicating any time to the needs of 3,500 people living with dementia, and their 2,000+ care givers.

Shame on you.

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Shame on your denials and excuses.

Shame on your hiding behind doors and blaming others.

What have we tried?

Meeting the Chair and Director of Strategy.

Taking a DEEP group to meet them.

Writing letters.

Attending meetings.

Involving our MP.

Social, radio and print media.

But these are not enough. We need more noise.

We need lots of noise. 

Disruption.

A bit less Mr Nice Guy.

God knows, I have tried to be well behaved. I have been polite. Calm. 

Facts, stories, experiences…

Nah. They ain’t listening.

So…it’s time to shout a bit.

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4 thoughts on “The story of a cock and a bull

  1. You’re going to need a mighty loud megaphone, George, but I truly believe that you’re the right person to get through to those who hold the purse strings. Sadly, too many people living with dementia, as well as their Carers, will have slipped through the net by then. Hope we meet up again soon, lots of love, Viv.

    Like

  2. Beautifully put, when do we start behaving like the French to get what we need? No, that’s not the way, we are far more dignified and that is why we get treated so poorly. Well done George.

    Like

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