By Sophia Stanworth for the Guardian
When I first came across John’s Campaign I remember thinking: “Why is this needed?” But the more I read, the more I realised that my own experience, 10 years earlier, had many similarities. My father Pag Monro – a doctor, like Dr John Gerrard, after whom the campaign is named – had vascular dementia when he was admitted to Hinchingbrooke Hospital in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire after a fall which broke his collar bone. He was there for three months.
Had I known my father would spend so long in hospital, I would have tried to keep him at home, but hindsight is a wonderful thing. His care in hospital was always well-intentioned but not always suitable, and unfortunately he succumbed to various infections. However, I was given open access to the ward – initially to ensure that he took his medication – and I soon became a regular visitor, with some nurses even asking when my next shift was.
It is essential, I believe, for relatives and carers to have such access at all times. They should be regarded as a valuable resource who can assist nursing staff in day-to-day care. Communication and co-operation are key. Just as the patient with dementia should be seen as a person, not a medical condition, staff looking after them must have as much information as possible to ensure their care is the best it can be.
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