First ever John’s Campaign summit is a resounding success

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Senior nurses and healthcare staff from across Scotland recently came to Lanarkshire to learn about the health board’s innovative dementia work.

NHS Lanarkshire hosted the first ever national John’s Campaign conference to promote the campaign and help improve care for people with dementia across the country.

Gillian McAuley, chief of nursing services at Wishaw General Hospital, said: “The event provided attendees with information about John’s Campaign and the opportunity to make pledges on behalf of their organisation, service or department.

“We had the pleasure of having presentations from a number of people with dementia, relatives and clinical staff.

“We also had the privilege of hearing Julia Jones, who co-founded John’s Campaign, speak about her journey.”

John’s Campaign supports people with dementia by ensuring they are surrounded by familiar faces around the clock by letting their carers stay with them on the ward.

Wishaw General Hospital was the first hospital in Scotland to adopt the campaign in 2014.

It has since been rolled out across all hospitals in Lanarkshire including the community hospitals.

The campaign was launched after the death of Dr John Gerrard, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in his mid‐70s. John’s family believed that he would have had a much improved quality of life towards the end of his life, had his family been able to participate in his care while he was in hospital.

His daughter, Nicci Gerrard, founded the campaign with her friend, Julia Jones.

Speaking about the conference, Julia said: “It was humbling to think that the single small change for which my friend Nicci Gerrard and I campaign, could be so comprehensively and professionally implemented and affect the lives of others in a way that is so inexpressibly profound.”

Musical Memories, a Lanarkshire choir consisting of people with a dementia diagnosis as well as carers, family or friends, entertained the audience with a spirited recital.

Julia added: “I am certain that the attendees at the NHS Lanarkshire conference went away with their personal pledges singing in their hearts and minds to be turned into actions.”

People with dementia, carers and nursing staff spoke about their experiences at the conference, which was held in Hamilton.

Zaria Sleith from Holytown said:: “My papa was receiving end-of-life care at Wishaw General and the staff couldn’t have been more understanding.

“They all got to know who I was as I was able to be there outside regular visiting hours.

“That meant I was there the day before my papa lost his ability to speak, allowing us a final conversation.

“I was able to go in at mealtimes, meaning I was there to give him his last ever ice cream – a favourite treat.”

Zaria added: “I was there to hold him at the end, which was very important to me.

“I think John’s Campaign is fantastic as it gives great comfort to patients and their families and carers that they can be close to each other as much as possible during a hospital stay.