The curate’s egg of dementia

curate's egg

The ‘curate’s egg’ first appeared as a cartoon in an edition of Punch in November 1895. It refers to somebody being served an egg with some poor but some excellent parts.

The term ‘curate’s egg’ was famously described in relation to the Health and Social Care Bill as it negotiated the machinery of parliamentary procedure by Hamish Meldrum of the British Medical Association.

Invariably, people given a diagnosis of dementia react in a number of different ways to the news. Much of it depends on their pre-conception of what dementia is, but some of it arises from the way in which the details of a possible diagnosis of dementia are disclosed.

I have found people’s knowledge of dementia very variable. In the main, though, I find that most people’s views of dementia are derived from close family members. No one person with dementia is the same, and your perception of that one person might well be different to someone else’s perception.

The reasonable expectation is that, if someone were to tell you that he or she has been diagnosed with dementia, this might be reciprocated with some understanding of what dementia is.

People are also different in the way they wish to express their views about dementia. No one person is the same. That’s why there’s no such thing as a ‘best campaigner’ for dementia.

Here Tommy Dunne explains why he likes Twitter but not Facebook:

I have concerns about the prevention arm of policy. I do not dispute the value in people leading lifestyles to minimise the risk of developing the clinical symptoms and signs of dementia, or to minimise the risk of fast progression of dementia.

But we have to be prepared to concede that there are people around who can’t tick off many of the risk factors for themselves. Iris Murdoch who was highly educated developed dementia: thus disputing the adage, “use it or lose it”.

But the issue that all individual voices offering a complementary narrative is useful.

Keith Oliver wrote an entire article on this.

Keith frames it as ‘going beyond telling a person’s story’, viz:

“Whilst personal stories are really useful, and make significant impressions, if a service user can go beyond that and target the audience in seeking to inspire change, then so much the better. The phrase “expert by experience”, when connected to living well with dementia, and person-centred care, can, with support, produce presentations which are harder hitting and consequently move people to change.”

These observations are all taken from “Dementia Diaries”. To read more about the project, please go here.