Health bosses should be ashamed

As a journalist I always try to do my best with a story - and by dint of my profession I try to remain objective.

There are times, however, when the humanity of a situation gets the better of you and you find yourself so emotionally involved in a story that it’s hard to switch off from.

It’s no secret that the issue of dementia care is one close to my heart. I watched the illness claim my granny - and it was devastating.

As a family we were blessed in many ways. My aunt was able to become granny’s full time carer and with her brothers and sister around her, along with the support of care workers, she was able to care for granny until the very end - when she passed away just after Christmas, in her own home, with her family close by.

Not everyone can do that. Not everyone can support the care of a loved one in that way. It was a hugely responsibility for my aunt and her siblings - not least because with the cruel nature of Alzheimer’s it took away the bones of the relationship they had shared long before it took granny from us completely.

For the couple I have been writing about over the last week - Margaret and Joe Toland - the struggle is ongoing. Joe has advanced Alzheimer’s - but he still knows his beloved Margaret. Margaret can see her husband of 42 years slip away, but wants to hold on to him for as long as she can. She needs to see him just as he needs to see her.

With limited family support, Margaret found herself unable to meet Joe’s needs - although she still spends at least two hours a day with him after her work.

Now, he faces being moved more than an hour from their home or Margaret faces having to give her job teaching children with special needs to take on his care, full time. She will do whatever it takes.

But the humanity of the situation beggars belief. I know the Health Service is being pushed and pulled in all directions. But there are some simple human rights everyone should be afforded.

Moving Joe could be detrimental to his health. Detrimental to the happiness of both him and Margaret - for however long it will last because Alzheimer’s progresses with a cruel pace. Whatever our health bosses are planning for our elderly, as dementia rates grow, surely compassion should be at the heart of their policies?