John’s Campaign to allow carers to stay with dementia patients in hospital gains momentum

In November 2014 Nicci Gerrard, journalist and daughter of Dr John Gerrard, started a campaign in memory of her father, to give carers the right to stay with dementia patients in hospital in much the same way parents are allowed to stay with sick children.

She had endured the misery of watching helplessly as a 4 week stay in hospital to treat his leg ulcers reduced her father, who had Alzheimer's, to a fragile, bewildered, immobile and inarticulate state from which he never recovered.

Determined to change  the system that leaves patients alone in an unfamiliar environment at a time when they are most vulnerable, she started John's Campaign, to encourage hospitals to change their procedures.

Nicci Gerrard, left, and Julia Jones, right, who are campaigning to get recognition for carers of dementia patients in hospitals, with Jo James (lead nurse for dementia medicine for elderly) and Josephine Tapit (ward manager) at St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington, London. Photograph: Richard Saker for the Observer

Supported by a close friend in a similar position, and with the backing of The Guardian and Observer newspapers, she has worked tirelessly to bring about change. And in a short period she has worked wonders, galvanising support across the board from medical staff, politicians, patients and the general public alike.

To explain her motivation, she writes with determination, conviction and real compassion. Her articles are well worth reading....click here to read her latest article in The Guardian.

Much has been talked of recently about finding ways of successfully joining the gaps between health and social care, and this campaign surely goes some way towards making this happen. As Nicci herself says... 

"This is not about money. It is about hearts and minds, about kindness, dignity and common sense."

"Carers do not have a duty to stay with people with dementia in hospital (they are often in desperate need of respite) but they must have the right, one that we believe should be enshrined in law."

"All the evidence shows that compassionate and person-centred treatment, where carers are part of the team around the patient, has tangible results: they leave hospital sooner, they are readmitted less often.​"

John's Campaign has been championed by The Observer from the very start, and this weekend (25/7/15) saw them launch a specially dedicated page online. This collects together all the articles published about John's Campaign so far, contains a table (to be updated weekly) naming all the hospitals that are welcoming carers, and includes a link to Patient Opinion website where comments and experiences can be sent directly to individual hospitals, to praise hospitals with exemplary practice and put pressure on those not yet welcoming carers.

Nicci is clear in her goal. By November 2016 (exactly 2 years from the start of John's Campaign) she wants every acute hospital trust to be on the list offering carers the chance to stay with their loved ones in hospital.

Here at Local Dementia Guide, we support her every step of the way!

For more information about John's Campaign...
click here for The Observer's online page about the campaign
click here ​for John's campaign website

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  • 27 July 2015