Cancer with dementia. Annoyingly wrong…

Yesterday I was asked to review a leaflet for patients using a cancer treatment centre, who ‘suffer from dementia or learning difficulties’.

Yes, of course, my local NHS Trust. Bless them. It was awful.

Not helpful; in fact it raised more questions than it answered.

Very poor photographs.

Text had no headings; all same font size.

Photos had captions in the wrong places.

The changing room looks like a prison cell.

It was intended to take people through their visit so they would know what to expect. It did not.

What, after all, is a CT Scanner? What does it do? Why me in that?

The cancer radiotherapy machine looks like a huge robot. (It is, I suppose.) Frightening.

And of course signage? Same old NHS signage. Small. Hanging from the ceiling.

Toilet sign the same.

Reception desk and table a confusing mess of bits and pieces. What is it? Where do I go?

And, mark you, I did a tour of the place eighteen months ago and listed all this stuff with the manager. What’s happened since? Nought.

Except a new, big sign outside the entrance. Full marks for that. Only that.

The Trust has of course signed up to the Dementia Friendly Hospital Charter. Little sign of its impact here.

Should I be more tolerant of the Trust? It’s in huge difficulties…mostly of its own making. No. I should not. We should not.

Anyway, this morning I lay in bed and suddenly realised the absurdity of the situation.

If you have cancer you have this expert facility to provide you with treatment. You have fully trained expert staff. You have back up support for psychosocial and financial difficulties.

If you live with dementia and get cancer you get treatment for the cancer. From people who do not understand your brain disease.

You will not palliative care for your terminal brain disease. You will get palliative care for your cancer.

And unwittingly I have helped perpetuate this, by helping an NHS cancer treatment centre provide cancer treatment for people living with dementia.

It’s something I cannot quite get my head around. Something lurking in my mind, which seems totally wrong, but which I cannot quite pin down in words.

It feels like being a prisoner and helping the gestapo to wrote a guide for prisoners of war about how to make food and water go further and last longer.

Just somehow wrong. Annoyingly wrong. A good thing to do, for the wrong people.

Venturing out of my isolation today, to my GP for a blood test, and to the vet with Lupin, I find myself annoyed again by what I find. GPs did not provide masks or hand sanitiser at the entrance or inside. The vet did.

I listen to radio 5 and hear about testing, tracing, schools…the lack of human decency, efficiency, and a PLAN for God’s sake.

So I return to isolation. Bugger them all!