A LETTER FROM BRITAIN: DIGNITY IN DEMENTIA

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Once again I am writing this blog from across the pond. A second Letter from Britain.

This week’s post will be brief. For those of you who read my blog last week on the subject of “denial”, you will know that my Mother (“Mum”) has been in a National Health Service (NHS) hospital for over seven weeks and that a decision to discharge her last week did not go well. She was readmitted by the NHS hospital the same day.

My Mum’s health then took a turn for the worse and as I write she is not medically fit enough to be sent anywhere. When she is a little better the Doctors’ will arrange a Care Management Assesment led by the Social Services Manager on site and that team will include a dementia specialist to assess my Mum’s understanding of a decision to send her to say, a cottage hospital, nursing home or any other alternative. The team will also include the Doctors, nursing staff and me as her Care Partner.

My Mum’s short term memory has deteriorated rapidly this year with the trauma of injury, illness and hospitalization. I can quite relate to Memory Matter’s own family of care givers. I am one here in England although personally I prefer to use the words “care partner”.

Having to explain dozens of times a day why your 94 year old loved one cannot go home is tough enough, but to have to do it while they are seriously ill is as heartbreaking as it can be. I have tried logic, common sense and many variations of simple analogy but none work well. Trying to change the subject is difficult. Distractions are not always possible! Being  brutally honest is a help, but not effective in this circumstance. Staying patient and not getting flustered is a key ingredient for this care partner and the NHS staff and Social Services are quite brilliant.

The Royal College of Nursing oversees all British Nursing staff and together with the Alzheimer’s Society they undertook a major assessment a few years back called “Dignity in Dementia”. Simply put they wanted to create dementia friendly hospitals nationwide. For those who want to read more here is the link to  Dignity in Dementia. The lessons learned were applied. I think it is another great example as to how the British Social Welfare State continues to evolve 70 years after it was first established.

One change I immediately noticed compared to a few years back  was that as Care Partner I was asked to complete a comprehensive questionnaire entitled “This is Me” authored by the Alzheimer’s Society of Britain in concert with The Royal College of Nursing. I completed it as if I was my Mum. Now a dedicated dementia nurse assigned to my Mum’s ward keeps in contact with both of us and is there to offer support and advise the other staff as to dementia sensitivity.

Immediately after I completed “This is Me” a picture of a little blue flower appeared above my Mum’s bed.

It’s called a “forget-me-not”!!

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This will be the last post from me for the foreseeable future. My Mum’s health has seriously deteriorated in an unexpected way.  It’s complicated, requires a lot of thought and I am extending my stay in England.

Thank you for reading my blog over the past three months. I really appreciated your comments, shares and “likes”!

I hope to resume writing one day when life returns to normality.

Should you believe this could help someone please share it. Contact Memory Matters at 1 843 842 6688 for any specific and confidential help.

8 thoughts on “A LETTER FROM BRITAIN: DIGNITY IN DEMENTIA

  1. Sharon Miller

    Mike,

    Will be keeping you and Mum in my prayers as you made some very difficult decisions. I can tell you from my experience, it is not easy, but you have to do what is best for them, it still hurts your heart. Your are an amazing son.

    Sharon Miller

    Like

  2. Carol Horton

    Dear Mike
    Please know that our hearts go out to you, your mum and family. Please know all of you are in our thoughts and prayers.
    Carol and Whit

    Like

    1. Dear Carol and Whit
      Thank you so much for your kind words and prayers that are beyond measure. I have avoided too much detail on this public site. Suffice to say it has become brutally difficult for my Mum.
      Mike

      Like

  3. Patricia Branning

    What a touching and beautiful post. Sending my love your way and prayers for courage and strength as you go through this difficult time.

    Like

  4. Grahame

    Mike, I have just read through your latest blog. It moved me. As a family member it is hard watching someone you love and have known all your life, deteriorate so quickly
    Great to read how you praise our wonderful National Health Service. Brilliant.
    Thoughts to your Mum and all the others going through these traumatic moments at this time.

    Like

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