Monday, 31 December 2012
I am now wondering whether its time to stop doing some jobs, and just do the work I am comfortable in doing.
Perhaps when we get home the pressure may be off me and I may relax a bit more
I rely on this blog to keep me going, once I stop doing this I am finished
Sunday, 30 December 2012
Published on Sunday 30 December 2012 10:00
At the opening people were served refreshments and chatted with the pupils, who joined in with water colour painting, dominoes and jigsaw puzzles, while a Rotarian played the piano.
The school’s interact club is trying to raise money for a Smart TV for the café which will allow a library of yester-year experiences and entertainment to be downloaded and shown to stimulate the long term memories of those with dementia.
What a wonderful idea and I really hope it works, as schools are the place to start if we really want to move on and remove the stigma which has been attached to this illness for years.
School children are very thoughtful and want to help as I have found with my grandchildren, so why not give them the chance.
I have tried to go inti schools to talk to school children but the school officials are not remotely interested, but perhaps its time they listened to others and did something useful for the community
Saturday, 29 December 2012
US experts could accurately identify Alzheimer's disease and another type of dementia from structural brain patterns on medical scans, Neurology reports.
Currently, doctors can struggle to diagnose dementia, meaning the most appropriate treatment may be delayed.
More invasive tests can help, but are unpleasant for the patient.
End Quote Lead researcher Dr Corey McMillanThis could be used as a screening method and any borderline cases could follow up with the lumbar puncture or PET scan”
Both cause the person to be confused and forgetful and can affect their personality, emotions and behaviour.
Alzheimer's tends to attack the cerebral cortex - the layer of grey matter covering the brain - where as frontotemporal dementia, as the name suggests, tends to affect the temporal and frontal lobes of the brain, which can show up on brain scans, but these are not always diagnostic.
A lumbar puncture - a needle in the spine - may also be used to check protein levels in the brain, which tend to be higher in Alzheimer's than with frontotemporal dementia.
A team at the University of Pennsylvania set out to see if they could ultimately dispense of the lumbar puncture test altogether and instead predict brain protein levels using MRI brain scans alone.
They recruited 185 patients who had already been diagnosed with either Alzheimer's disease or frontotemporal dementia and had undergone a lumbar puncture test and MRI scanning.
- There are many causes of dementia, with Alzheimer's the most common
- More than half a million people in the UK have Alzheimer's disease
- Frontotemporal dementia tends to affects people who are younger - under 65 - and can affect a personality and behaviour
- Other types of dementia include vascular dementia and dementia with Lewy bodies
They found the density of gray matter on the MRI scans correlated with the protein results.
The MRI prediction method was 75% accurate at identifying the correct diagnosis.
Although this figure is some way off an ideal 100%, it could still be a useful screening tool, say the researchers.
Lead researcher Dr Corey McMillan said: "This could be used as a screening method and any borderline cases could follow up with the lumbar puncture or PET scan."
Dr Simon Ridley, Head of Research at Alzheimer's Research UK, said: "This small study suggests a potential new method for researchers to distinguish between two different types of dementia, and a next step will be to investigate its accuracy in much larger studies involving people without dementia.
"While this method is not currently intended for use in the doctor's surgery, it may prove to be a useful tool for scientists developing new treatments. The ability to accurately detect a disease is vital for recruiting the right people to clinical trials and for measuring how well a drug may be working.
"Ultimately, different causes of dementia will need different treatment approaches, so the ability to accurately distinguish these diseases from one another will be crucial."
The only drug currently licensed in England and Wales for treating frontotemporal dementia is rivastigmine.
There are four licensed treatments for Alzheimer's - donepezil, galantamine, rivastigmine and memantine.
Friday, 28 December 2012
Thursday, 27 December 2012
I think its the fact that I am tired, and with the Grandchildren around I am fining them very tiring, which is very sad as I love them dearly, but its their constant attention that is difficult at times.
I think the noise is also stating to affect me as well, but I have to keep going as we head off home tomorrow and that could be stressful as the trains could be full, and it will be a very long journey due to all of the flooded fields at the track side. I don't think I have ever seen so much water in the fields as these last two years.
I hope things improve so I can enjoy the rest of my stay at my daughters
Wednesday, 26 December 2012
I have always struggled with noise since being diagnosed with Lewy Body Dementia, and this Christmas id no different.
I get very upset after these graphic nightmares, but I suppose that I am lucky they don't happen every night
Tuesday, 25 December 2012
I have included one or two articles from the press which cover dementia, and I will ensure that all of the writers names are included next year as I feel it is very important
These names were omitted due to me not thinking straight in the passed, but this will be corrected in future
I included these press items as they were important to prove that things are moving in the right direction as far as this illness is concerned
Thank you all again
Monday, 24 December 2012
During the holidays, many people have the chance to reconnect with loved ones. As you visit with relatives and friends — particularly older people — you may notice changes in their behavior, speech or memory. Changes like forgetfulness, confusion, irritability or a sense of being disconnected from events may be signs of dementia or Alzheimer's or they could be linked to normal aging. How can you tell the difference?
If they have always been prone to misplacing things or forgetting names, it may not be cause for worry. However, if this represents a change, it's time to take action.
Dementia places people at risk on a daily basis, as taking medication, driving and cooking all become dangerous. Yet it is easy to miss true signs of dementia. An older adult may impress family members by recalling, in detail, events from their youth.
But a sharp memory for long-ago events often goes hand-in-hand with an inability to create new memories or to recall recent events such as what the person had for lunch.
Signs of Alzheimer's or dementia include sudden personality changes (an extroverted person may become very withdrawn, or vice versa), dramatic changes in mood, or loss of initiative. People with cognitive difficulties may have trouble recognizing and using language (it's important to rule out hearing loss). They often repeat themselves, and sometimes lose the ability to complete familiar processes, like making a favorite recipe or dressing themselves. Perhaps most worrisome, people with dementia may exercise poor judgment, using household tools in a dangerous way or taking risks while driving.
If you spot any of these warning signs in a loved one, they may require evaluation:
■ Memory loss
■ Difficulty performing familiar tasks
■ Problems with language
■ Disorientation to time or place
■ Poor or decreased judgment
■ Problems with abstract thinking
■ Misplacing things
■ Changes in mood or behavior
■ Changes in personality
■ Loss of initiative
While it is important to recognize signs of memory problems in family and friends, it is also important to use tact when approaching the individual. A crowded family dinner isn't the time or place to bring up symptoms you may have noticed.
For more information on Alzheimer's disease and memory disorders, contact the University of Kentucky Sanders-Brown Center on Aging at UKy.Edu/COA or (859) 323-5550.
Losing my old blog was hard to accept as it was my own fault as I was trying to do something which is normally easy on a bad day, but since setting up this new blog, things seem to have turned the corner and I have met many new friends around the world.
Thank You for joining me and I hope more people will join me in the next year
Sunday, 23 December 2012
Forget-me-not stickers idea to help boost hospital’s care of dementia sufferers and their families
A forget-me-knot flower sticker put in patients case notes and above their beds will mean patients with the condition are easily identified.
Head of nursing for medicine Dawn Parkes, said the scheme will help make Bradford Teaching Hospitals a centre of excellence for dementia.
“The forget-me-knot scheme is another example of our drive to improve our continuing care, treatment and support for this vulnerable patient group,” she said.
To celebrate the start of the scheme, a Christmas tree where people can leave memories and thoughts has been placed in the main entrance of the Bradford Royal Infirmary.
Dementia project manager, Dani Woods, said: “We have been asking patients, visitors, relatives and staff to write the names of loved ones that they wish to remember this Christmas, or a statement around the positive care they or relatives have received, on a name-tag to hang on our Christmas tree.
“The tree and its memories tags have been receiving so much attention that we have decided that once it is taken down, the luggage labels will be adapted into a piece of art work which will be displayed within the hospital.”
“Hospitals can be very unsettling places for patients with dementia, so our work centres around helping patients and staff connect through something that is embedded in memories. It also gives relatives the chance to have that kind of interaction with their loved ones too” said Miss Woods.
The Forget-me-knot scheme and the Foundation Trust’s
look out for the signs of dementia in elderly relatives.
The charity has called for people to look out for symptoms in relatives.
Initial signs of the condition, which is caused by diseases of the brain, may include short-term memory loss that affects every day life, problems with thinking or reasoning, or unexplained anxiety, anger or depression.
It is also advising anyone concerned that they may have dementia to visit their GP to get a proper diagnosis.
Presenter and Alzheimer's Society ambassador Fiona Phillips, whose parents both had dementia, said that if her mother had been diagnosed earlier then she could have handled the situation better.
She said: "I remember one Christmas when my husband and I arrived at Mum and Dad's and found Mum distant and cold.
"There was no food in the house at all and she seemed to have forgotten we were coming.
"We didn't realise then that she was already suffering badly with Alzheimer's.
"It took another while before she received her diagnosis - if only we had gotten it sooner, I would have been able to plan things, instead of doing everything in a big rush.
"It could also have prevented things happening like my mum setting the kitchen on fire.
"When you have an early diagnosis there are things you can do."
An Alzheimer's Society spokeswoman said that one in three people over 65 would develop dementia.
Research by the charity shows that 800,000 people in the UK have a form of dementia, this figure is predicted to soar to one million within a decade.
Friday, 21 December 2012
I do think that it’s time for those with dementia in England, to get together and form a new Living with dementia working group, so that we can inspire others to get up and realise that you can still have an active life after the diagnosis.There used to be two wonderful working groups in the UK, and both did so much to raise the profile of the illness.
Both the Scottish Dementia Working Group and the Alzheimer's Society's Living with Dementia Working Groups had a really positive role in raising awareness and campaigning in the past.
However these days we are only left with the Scottish Dementia Working Group, and the Living with Dementia Group has disappeared completely, through what many think was purely political purposes.
The reason many people think was because the Alzheimer's Society wanted full control over them, and many within the group thought it was wrong. It also cost a fair bit of money to run, but I do think that this part was not done properly at times, and this let to problems. There were also concerns that people were told what they should and should not say at times, something which took away our freedom to speak from the heart if it conflicted with the Societies views
The Scottish Group is independent of the Scottish Alzheimer's Society, although it retains strong links. This group is funded separately and works well with the Scottish Parliament, in campaigning and working on projects which need government support, and they are well respected around the world.
I have many friends within the Scottish Group and have admired them for a long time as they really get things done, to improve the lives of all with dementia. Like the Living with dementia working group they set out to inspire others with the illness to go out and help others while at the same time proving that you can enjoy life and live well with dementia.
As I was told at an early stage, when I went to the first UK Convention for people with Dementia, there is still a new life after the diagnosis, and with help and support you may well find it.
Since that event I have learnt so much and met so many new friends around the world, and life has taken on a new meaning.
So why can we not have the Working Group back in England. Well I suppose to do this properly it must be funded separately from the Alzheimer's Society and must be allowed to work independently, but that will possibly mean being funded by a large company as the public purse is running out.
But providing that company does not have too much baggage attached to it, I see no reason why this should not get support.
We are at the end of the day trying to get people inspired to campaign, and work for others, and if the Alzheimer's Society does not want this to happen then why not let someone else do it, providing it’s well organised and run.
This has to be done one way or another and with the support of the Joseph Rowntree Trust we may well see something happen as this group is independent of the Society and they want to see things change for those with the illness
However I do feel that the way forward is for charities, to encourage people with dementia to get involved, and feel wanted.
Those with dementia know what its like to live with the illness, as they have it, and other people should not assume that they know all about it. So by inspiring us to get up and help others we are also helping ourselves and all who follow us in the future.
We have been getting our home ready, so that all being well we can move back again on the 3rd January
Its been a long hard time since the flood in June which badly damaged our home, and its now starting to look wonderful again, although the heavy rainfalls we have had recently, have made us fearful, of it all happening again.
I am now looking forward to spending some time with our wonderful daughter and her husband and the grandchildren, and we hope it will be a happy and enjoyable time.
These children are so nice and caring, and its amazing how much they understand about dementia, although they call it "old timers".
I make a mistake and call someone the wrong name, or get stuck for words, they always say something like, don't worry you have old timers and have an excuse for forgetting things.
There are times what it brings tears to my eyes, as its all genuine, but I try to hide it as much as possible.
So if you don't hear anything over the next week, may I wish you all a very Merry Christmas, and I hope that we all have a better year next year.
Government Pumps £22m into Dementia Research
[UK / Implementations] - Determined to make the UK a global leader in dementia research, the Coalition has found an extra £22m to help develop possible medical responses to the chronic condition.
Some 21 projects – which cover, in the words of the Department of Health, “all areas of scientific activity relevant to dementia, across the fields of care, cure and cause, including prevention” – have been awarded the extra funding. The money is being doled out by the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR).
Examples of projects covered by the grant include trialling the use of a blood pressure drug called Losartan to complement current treatments for Alzheimer′s. This is in addition to the UK′s first ever trial measuring how much longer people with dementia can live safely and independently in their own homes, if provided with a specialised telecare technology package including motion sensors, GPS trackers, and personal alarms.
Another is a trial to produce a comprehensive toolkit for GPs to make identifying the signs of the disease easier and improve diagnosis rates.
Welcoming the announcement, Alzheimer′s Society Chief Executive Jeremy Hughes pointed out that, “As it stands, there are currently more clinical trials into hay fever than there are into some of the most common forms of dementia.
“Dementia is the greatest health and social care challenge of our time and defeating it needs to be a priority for society,” he added.
Announcing the funding, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said, “The UK is home to some of the world′s best dementia researchers and specialist research facilities, and this Government is committed to supporting them.
“To make a real difference to research, Government must respond to the barriers the industry faces. It is vital that we can translate the excellent work happening in our laboratories across the country into treatments that can help people live well with dementia today, whilst ultimately working towards finding a cure.”
Hunt made his remarks while visiting Eli Lilly′s UK dementia research centre.
Government figures suggest 670,000 people in England are currently diagnosed with the dementia, a figure it says is set to double in the next 30 years, creating “one of the biggest challenges faced by the UK in recent times.”
The news complements the publication last month of the Department′s first Progress Report on the Prime Minister′s Challenge on Dementia, which had been launched in March 2012.
Some of the achievements highlighted in that Report included a £50m fund to create specially adapted wards and care home spaces to improve the experience of people with dementia.
Thursday, 20 December 2012
Many years ago we went to the Submarine museum at Gosport and never gave it a second thought, that this little boy would go on to be a Sub marina with the Royal Navy.
I feel so proud of his achievements from leaving school, and becoming an electrician, only to find that he could not get any work in the North East of England due to the fact that there are so many people doing electrical work when they are not qualified to do the job.
Last year he completed his initial training at Plymouth and then went off to Scotland to finish his Submarine training
I may not see him go up the ladder if he gets promoted, but I can still look back with pride, as he
" like me has done so well" after leaving school".
A very proud moment
Tuesday, 18 December 2012
Many are working fewer and fewer hours these days, so just how do you get to see one, and how can the services be improving.
I recently when to see one of ours as I had been struggling with a cough which was making me choke and ended up sleeping in a chair so that I did not disturb my wife.
After a month of this my wife said we had to do something, so we went to see the doctor.
She said that my chest was crackling? but there was not infection. However she put me on antibiotics which did not make any sense at all if there was no infection.
When we left the surgery I asked my wife if she was happy seeing someone who really did not want to be there and she looked rather puzzled.
Then I told her that the GP was doing online shopping while seeing her patients, and this shook her.
I found this sort of thing to be rude and very arrogant, and also showed lack of respect to her patients.
Yes GPs may be busy but so is everyone else, and to be honest when I worked I did over 50 hours a week, sometimes up to 80 as I was an engineer on call.
Yet these doctors are doing less work than the average person and getting twice as much money for it.
I hear that GPs are going to be running the health service in the future, and this I find staggering when this sort of thing goes on in surgeries, and lets be honest it can not be a one off.
I did not have an infection as I still have the cough although its not as bad, but I have heard since that it could be to do with my asthma? not an infection, which may well be caused by the fact that we are in a flat with night storage heaters which seem to dry the air out.
As well as that when we go to our house, the fumes are bad due to the paint, but they are due to finish today, and it would be nice to sit and do things even though we can not move back in till January.
I confess that it worries me that these GPs are responsible for all patients including those with dementia who cannot fend for themselves. If I had gone to this doctors on a bad day I would never have noticed what they were doing on the computer, but I have to ask if others are doing the same thing as there are always large gaps between one patient leaving and the net going in.
I am dreading these people taking over the health service as some only work two or three days a week and get very well paid for this service.
- NHS to reward surgeries which provide an all-round good service
- Critics say GPs should not receive extra bonuses just for doing their jobs
Their practices will be given extra payments worth up to £30,000 a year if they make improvements in cancer, dementia and out-of-hours care.
The NHS wants to reward surgeries which diagnose patients early, improve survival rates and provide an all-round good service. The GPs running the surgery can decide whether to plough the bonuses back into patient care, or pay themselves and their staff.
But critics say GPs are already well paid and should not receive extra bonuses just for doing their jobs. In the past six years, their average salaries have soared by 50 per cent to £110,000 a year, thanks to a controversial contract negotiated under Labour.
It enabled them to stop working evenings and weekends while earning extra cash for meeting targets which were widely considered to be too lenient.
Many family doctors now employ locums to cover out-of-hours work and concerns have been raised about the standard of care.
Roger Goss, of Patient Concern, said: ‘It’s an outrage. GPs do not deserve any more money. They think health is a weekday, nine-to-five business that stops at weekends. Yet our GPs are some of the highest paid in the world.’
And Robert Oxley, of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: The last thing taxpayers will want to see is bigger salaries and bonuses for already well-paid GPs without significant improvements to services.’
Details of this latest bonus scheme have been unveiled by the NHS Commissioning Board, a recently formed quango tasked with overseeing GPs.
Family doctors are forming local organisations known as Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) which will replace Primary Care Trusts.
From 2014, they will be measured on new targets including the number of patients dying from cancer, heart disease and lung conditions.
They will also cover the proportion of patients diagnosed promptly with dementia and patient satisfaction with the surgery and out-of-hours care.
The best-performing organisations – or those which make substantial improvements over the course of the year – will be given bonuses, known as ‘quality premiums’.
Each surgery within the CCG will be given £5 for every patient on its books. An average practice has 6,000 patients, equating to a maximum payment of £30,000 a year.
Organisations who have gone over budget will not get any bonus payments – regardless of how many targets have been met. The first bonus payments will be made in 2014/15.
Health Minister Dr Dan Poulter said: ‘Reviewing the contract will ensure doctors have the right training and rewards from the moment they qualify to when they retire as an experienced consultant.’
Meanwhile, hospital doctors could see their pay soar to up to £160,000 a year as part of government plans to improve performance.
Ministers want to create ‘super-consultants’ who would take on leadership responsibilities and become experts in their field.
Such doctors, known as ‘principal consultants’, would earn up to £120,000 a year with a bonus of up to £40,000.
The Government also wants to scrap the controversial ‘lifetime’ bonuses scheme which sees doctors paid up to £75,000 a year on top of their six-figure salaries.
Thousands receive the payments regardless of whether they still do the extra work that first earned them the money. Ministers want to make them reapply each year.
Yesterday the NHS also announced plans to make doctors work at weekends. But officials are unlikely to be able to force GPs to see patients out-of-hours – they will be able to carry on subcontracting the work to locums.
Monday, 17 December 2012
Members of Happy Memories, which meets every Thursday at St Andrew’s Church Hall in Undercliffe, sang festive songs in the atrium before an inaugural lecture of its newly-appointed honorary professor of dementia care practice Professor Graham Stokes.
The group, which was set up by Jane Dale, sees people with and without dementia perform together to share their love of music and performs regularly.
“In performance it is impossible to tell which members have dementia and which do not and research shows that memory for music, song lyrics, rhythm and beat is often unimpaired even in severe dementia
A dementia care home in the Netherlands is experimenting with a new way of treating patients by offering them an "alternative reality".
Director of Innovation and co-founder Yvonne van Amerongen showed Anna Holligan around their virtual village near Amsterdam.
Saturday, 15 December 2012
I also had a long weekend in Northern Ireland with the Alzheimer's Society, and while we were there we learnt a lot about the problems Ireland has struggled with over the years, and this was good as we got it from the people rather than what the press wanted us to know. The people we met there were very warm and friendly. One day we may go back again.
Pure fantasy I admit, but you have to allow your imagination to think about these places.
I also know that many people, could never afford to travel outside their own countries but perhaps they dream of the same things, it would be interesting to hear from some less well off countries
The assessment service integrates several cognitive tests with computerised examinations of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) brain scans. It could provide medics with a way of detecting dementia much earlier than is currently possible using conventional technology. At the heart of the assessment service’s software is an algorithm created by Dr Robin Wolz and Professor Daniel Rueckert from the Biomedical Image Analysis Group in the Department of Computing at Imperial.
The researchers say the 15 months of diagnosis time the new system could save are critical to the effectiveness of treating diseases such as Alzheimer’s. This is due to the fact that existing drug treatments are most effective in these diseases’ earliest stages.
Dr Wolz, who received his Ph.D. from Imperial College London in medical image analysis, says:
“The size of the parts of the brain important for memory such as the hippocampus and amygdala steadily decrease as Alzheimer’s progresses. Doctors use this as an indicator of how far Alzheimer’s has progressed in patients. Currently, doctors have to work out what is happening to the structure of the hippocampus using an MR scan. This is a painstaking, costly and time-consuming process, where doctors have to analyse the three-dimensional scan slice by slice, so is only ever done in highly specialized centres. Our automated technology can provide this information to all doctors, seamlessly integrated into current processes, and by adding information and increasing confidence, speed up the diagnosis process. This could lead to quicker treatments for patients to improve their quality of life.”
Dr Wolz’s method, Learning Embeddings for Atlas Propagation (LEAP), removes the need for a doctor to map out the brain structure by hand. LEAP can examine MRI brain scans and measure the volume of specific brain structures like the hippocampus and amygdala rapidly and accurately.
As part of the project, GPs will start testing the memory of patients who potentially have dementia using the memory-testing software. Patients who test abnormally will take a second cognitive test and receive an MRI brain scan. The scans will run through a computer program that uses Dr Wolz’s method to assess signs of brain shrinkage. The results from these two tests will be combined with an assessment of blood vessel damage in the brain and given to the GP who will decide on further treatment.
This project is a collaboration between Cambridge Cognition, a creator of cognitive tests, and the medical imaging company IXICO Ltd., which is an Imperial College London spinout company founded in 2004 by academics from Imperial, University College London and King’s College London.
In early November, the partners were awarded a grant for £2.1 million towards the cost of this £3.3m project from the Government-funded Biomedical Catalyst to establish The Brain Health Centre. The aim of the Centre is to make testing for dementia by the NHS quick, cost-effective and seamlessly integrated into the existing patient pathway and health care structure. It will also enable the team to collect valuable data on dementia, which will be used in the development of the assessment system.
Dr Wolz adds: “It is exciting to be able to contribute to this ongoing project. It is very motivating to see my research applied in such a setting. I think that the project has the potential to revolutionise the diagnosis of dementia in day to day practice.”
Friday, 14 December 2012
Thursday, 13 December 2012
Thousands of patients are set to receive potentially life-saving care thanks to the new government blueprint for changes to the GP contract, the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has claimed.
The proposals will change the way GPs are rewarded for the care they offer. Instead of being rewarded for routine office functions like record keeping, GPs will be rewarded for steps which directly support and benefit patients. This includes better control of blood pressure and cholesterol, to prevent heart attacks and stroke and assessing patients at risk from dementia.
Millions of pounds will be switched into improving care for patients and making better use of taxpayers' money, Hunt said. The proposed changes will see £164m pounds taken away from rewarding GPs for bureaucratic tick-box exercises and re-directed into actions which will directly benefit patients.
The changes could mean that around 1.5m more patients will get better care in 2013/14 and this could reach as high as 3.5m by 2014/15. The changes should mean more tests, treatments and medicines for patients with diabetes, hypertension, lung disease, heart failure and arthritis – care that will improve diagnosis, the health of patients and potentially save more lives.
"Getting patients an earlier diagnosis of dementia and supporting those with long-term conditions are my main priorities [and] I want GPs to take the lead in making this happen," Hunt said.
"Standards of care in this country must be world class – and we should continuously strive to improve. This is why the GP contract must change. Our proposals will make sure we support the patients most in need and will help save lives in practices across the country. We believe GPs can and will rise to these new challenges."
However, the British Medical Association (BMA), which has not agreed with the changes or the way they were negotiated, said the government had not considered the impact they would have on GP practices.
Dr Laurence Buckman, chair of the BMA's GP committee, said: "Practices are already under huge workload pressures and we have real fears that these proposed changes will result in an even greater load at the same time as forcing through a reduction in core funding. The government's proposals may sound attractive on the face of it and some of their suggestions are good, however they have not fully considered the overall impact on practices of all these changes being implemented together. This could make it difficult for some practices to maintain the level of care they currently offer, let alone increase their capacity to meet the demands of these new proposals."
He added: "We also remain unconvinced about the basis for some of the proposed changes, which include asking GPs to refer patients to certain education programmes which do not exist everywhere in the UK."
Its seems that each year councils get worse at gritting the roads and footpaths, and this year they have far out past themselves as Durham County Council does do seem bothered about gritting anything which is not their property, or should I say does not have their offices on.
All of their office blocks have been gritted and cleared, yet outside their properties everyone is left to fend for themselves.
This weather and dementia do not mix, as you spend so much time trying to watch where you are going, so its bad enough without slipping and trying to stay on your feet.
I think all councils should start to be dementia friendly, then they will start to respect everyone else instead of looking after only their staff.
Where we are at present due to the floods of June, is on a hill, which is very steep, and the footpaths and roads are treacherous to say the least, so what happened to the days when all footpaths and roads were gritted and made safe for all.
I must admit that I hate this weather and just want to get back home after Christmas before things take a turn for the worst. When it snows life is slightly easier because you can get some grip until it all freezes, but with ice you stand no chance at all.
Last year I slipped on the ice and cracked two ribs, and that is still fresh in my memory
Getting it right for dementia patients
Some of the most depressing cases involve dementia patients - as shown in the dossier of "appalling" cases highlighted by the Patients Association a few weeks ago.
Last week a report by monitoring body Dr Foster gave an insight into the difficulties hospitals are facing with overcrowding which makes providing the right care for the frail and elderly more difficult.
But that doesn't mean there aren't places getting it right - as I found out when I visited the world-renowned Guy's and St Thomas's Trust in the heart of London.
The trust has been giving special consideration to the care it provides to dementia patients for some time.
Part of this involves providing specialist dementia training to staff, which has been happening since 2009.
At first it was given to nurses and other key staff such as speech therapists and dieticians, but it has now been rolled out to the entire workforce from doctors to porters.
Bridget Fordham, the trust's clinical nurse specialist for dementia, told me: "Our staff said that of all the patients they dealt with they were the most unsure about those with dementia.
"They just did not have the confidence or skills to deal with them. Dementia patients can get very agitated. Delirium is a big problem.
"So we started doing some training to help. Staff say it has made a big difference and helped them in the way they care for patients."
But the trust has also sought to make changes to the physical environment to help dementia patients.
In the three elderly care wards at St Thomas's Hospital doors to toilets and washrooms have been colour-coded with bays to give patients visual prompts in finding their way round.
Padded flooring has also been laid to help soften falls, which are more likely among dementia patients.
A number of other measures have been introduced trust-wide.
These include a print of a forget-me-not which is placed above the bed of all dementia patients to alert staff to their condition. Dementia patients are also given blue wristbands to wear.
This has proved particularly useful if patients have wandered away from their wards, as Ms Fordham explains.
"We obviously don't want to lock patients in and people with dementia can go wandering so what this does is tell staff that this patient has dementia and should not be out on their own.
"We have had security staff finding patients and because they have had the dementia training they understand the situation and know how to approach them."
Red trays and beakers are also used to signify which patients need help with nutrition.
Nurses on the elderly care wards believe the aids have been a big help.
Deputy charge nurse Jim Domingo says: "They are really useful. If you are coming back from some time off or when there is agency staff working it just makes sure we know straight away who needs what."
Patients and their carers appreciate these measures too. Christine Nethercott, 64, from nearby Bermondsey, has been a regular visitor to St Thomas's over the past five weeks as her mother, Eleanor, has been recuperating from an infection.
While she has been in, Eleanor has had dementia diagnosed.
"It's really reassuring to know staff will be aware of my mother's condition and looking our for her when I am not here," says Christine.
"I must say the care she has received has been wonderful."
Monday, 10 December 2012
I have met many new friends since starting on the Dementia trail, and it is down to one or two of these dear people who got me started, and made me realise that there is life after the diagnosis.
Trevor Jarvis, Peter Ashley, James McKillop are just a few of those people that I have been very proud to meet,
Chairing the Second UK Convention for People with Dementia at Birmingham, was something that I will never forget.
Two Brookes awards from the Alzheimer's Society
One for Volunteering along with my dear wife.
The second for my work as a Moderator on the Alzheimer's Societies Talking Point
The Civic Award from Durham County Council, where I was awarded a Golden Key, something which takes pride of place in the house.
Meeting people like Andy Williams who in many ways was a giant of a man yet a very warm and gentle giant, who was quiet and listened to what was being said.
My Blog which took off without my really knowing what was going on, and it ended up being read by over 11.600 people in 86 countries. I was also asked if it could be used in Universities to promote a better understanding of the illness. That really made me proud because I started doing blogging as a way to keep my brain active by discussing my problems with dementia, and never really expected it to go anywhere like this.
Sadly I lost that blog one day when I made a mistake on google and ended up deleting it all, however as google would not help me bring it back, I got started setting up a new blog using all of the saved documents.
This made me realise just how bad the brain can get when we are tired, and also made me realise that when I am tired I stay away from the computer or anything where mistakes can happen
Being able to talk to students about Living with Dementia.
Being asked to speak at the launch of the Cross party committee on Dementia in Parliament, and then looking back at the advances this group has made in Dementia.
Its been an enjoyable journey and something I have been very proud to do, as its also helped so many others understand that there is a life with dementia if you are diagnosed early enough.
Dementia lessons at Stoke Damerel Community College
Stoke Damerel Community College in Plymouth is one of only 20 in the UK to become a "dementia-friendly" school.
The condition affects about 700,000 in England and with people living longer, the number could double in 30 years.
Stoke Damerel's project leader Lana Helmore, said students could help encourage early diagnosis by spotting the signs in a older relative.
"Research shows dementia is actually affecting younger people as well nowadays," she told BBC News.
"So if we can educate our students to know the signs, the symptoms and things associated with it, it can spread into the wider community.
- Struggling to remember recent events
- Problems following conversations
- Forgetting the names of friends or objects
- Repeating yourself
- Problems with thinking or reasoning
- Confusion in familiar places
"If students are going home and noticing these signs in perhaps a grandparent or somebody they know, they can then maybe encourage them to go along for an early diagnosis," Ms Helmore added.
Lessons about dementia will be incorporated into various subjects at the school, including healthcare, maths, English, music and drama.
In maths, students will try to design "memory joggers" and put them into a maths equation, while in English, life stories will be made from interviews with people with the condition.
Martin Cox, Stoke Damerel's community and partnerships director, said staff at the school were fully behind the initiative.
"Some staff might have parents or partners who've been touched by dementia or Alzheimer's and seen the effects of these first hand and that's why they're very keen to bring it into the classroom and share their knowledge with the students," he said.
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