Don’t sell dementia like a second rate used car salesman

I am often reminded of the piece of work which eventually won the Nobel Prize for Economics. It’s on the economics of ‘lemons’.

By this, I don’t mean the lemons you might see in Seville, or have a slice of for your gin and tonic. I’m talking about cars where the front looks normal, but the back is in fact soldered on. The car in question is in fact a rusty banger, and the car has been clocked.

“Living well with dementia” is an important policy strand. If done correctly, people realise that, while every person is unique with dementia, you become educated that there are medically various causes of dementia all with their own characteristics.

It’s sophisticated, as it needs an understanding of what ‘living well’, and why it might be of benefit for a person who has received a diagnosis of dementia. With the National Health Service operating a budget of millions of pounds, irrespective of whether you believe in a health market or not (and I do not), we need to know who the used car salesmen are.

“Living well with dementia” can be subject to the same sloganising as “No decision about me without me”. They seem to trip off the tongue, but commissioners need to be wary of any attempts at a quick fix. Mentoring for dementia has been around as an idea  for decades. Some of us like shiny new products.

But people living with dementia are not a commodity. They are unique individuals like us, who happen to have been given a diagnosis of dementia. There’s absolutely no love lost between me and the medical profession, so I take with a pinch of salt those people who are ‘inspirational’ in healthcare, when problems with the healthcare industries and local economies include toxic suppression of whistleblowing and lack of a realistic duty of candour.

Innovation, like equality and diversity, have become marketing gimmicks in the National Health Service. Leadership has become another vacuous buzzword, when there are juniors shoving in catheters and pushing trolleys like no tomorrow in the current NHS.

But it’s a matter of authenticity. I will unfollow or even block people who are ‘NHS influencers’ who will ask me to retweet a last tweet. I am not so cheap so as to go round ferreting up the arses of people who want to be ‘recognised’.

There is a genuine problem with stigma and discrimination of people who have received a diagnosis of dementia. Due to a leading ‘innovation’ in the NHS which uses a tool which has been designed as a screening test for inpatients’ depression, there’s scope for some of these things ‘being done cheaper and more efficiently’ to produce a whole swathe of false diagnoses.

So, by all means, help with dementia. But don’t become a used car salesman, please.




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