From Jim Gibbons, Ryde:

AS I am now what my dad used to call an octodeluvian, and have a suffering relative, I am more interested than most in the facilities at Shackleton dementia centre at St Mary’s Hospital (CP, 28-06-19).

However, the article raised more questions in my mind than it answered:

1. The reference to six bedrooms (unless they are shared, or dormitories) suggests it can only accommodate six inpatients. Is this the number of dementia patients the NHS can house on the Island, or are there other wards also?

2. I believe the NHS takes the justifiable view their function is to treat rather than to house, and if they cannot treat a sufferer he is expected to be looked after privately or by charities, eg Mountbatten. Is this the case? Are the Shackleton patients being treated? What treatment is there?

3. In the staff photo, there are 12 people. If it takes 12 to look after six, and we are all getting older and more likely to get dementia and live longer with it, the economics of the situation do not bear thinking about. But we must.

4. The grim reference to “ligature risks” presumably refers to suicide attempts. In an earlier column of mine in the CP, I advocated accepting suicide as a basic human right, and that with many safeguards we should all be allowed (not encouraged) — and helped — to take an easy way out. Money spent on keeping people alive who do not wish to live could be better spent on people who do.

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