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Dementia: how our campaign for patient dignity in hospitals took off

jimbo 111

Registered User
Jan 23, 2009
North Bucks
Dementia: how our campaign for patient dignity in hospitals took off

When I wrote about my father’s death, it touched many readers, all passionate to help dementia sufferers

‘Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” Over the past few weeks, I have become freshly aware of the wisdom of this saying, aware both of this great battle we fight and of the kindness of people that runs like an underground river beneath the noise and hurtle of public events.

Two months ago, I wrote a piece in the Observer about the death of my father, who had had dementia for many years, but had been leading a contented life at home until he went into hospital with leg ulcers. I described how he entered able to walk, talk, wash himself, feed himself, work in his beloved garden, listen to poetry, be happy – and how, five weeks later, he came out a skeleton, incontinent, immobile, inarticulate, bed-bound. He lived like a ghost in his own life for eight more months; his dying was both a great sorrow but also his release.

I wrote the piece because I believed that what happened to my father happens to many others and however wonderful the nurses and doctors are (and they are!), hospitals cannot cope with the number of demented people who occupy the beds, fill up A&E, need feeding, hydrating, but also constant, reassuring attention. The hospital experience can be bewildering, terrifying, catastrophic for them.

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