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Helen Rochford-Brennan shares her experience of the Galway conference

Monday 25 June 2018

For me there were many common threads running through the Living Well with Dementia in Rural Ireland Conference. It is not just an Irish issue which in a way was surprising. It was an enlightening day of listening to the difficulties, how change is possible and about the need to advocate and lobby our government. Timely diagnosis, infrastructure and person-centred quality care were the main issues. The lack of broadband  service, transport services, isolation, good health and social care services, poverty and no sense of community were also important issues that were raised.
It was also interesting to hear about palliative care and the support offered to people with dementia to die in their own homes. This  will be of great assistance to families  in rural Ireland  who want their loved ones to have dignity to the end of life. Another interesting discussion was on the abuse of anti-psychotic medication of patients in long-term care. Finally, this abuse is being challenged thanks to Kieran Walsh from the University College of Cork. 
All the presentations were excellent. So many great topics beginning with Dianne Gove's presentation on the European Working Group of People with Dementia and Alzheimer Europe, followed by pathways of care in acute hospitals to re-framing dementia as a  disability, care home person-centred approach,  to the voice of the carers and people with dementia. It was a very diverse day and we all realised the importance of many voices... there is no one expert. The Alzheimer Society of Ireland CEO Pat McLoughlin talked  about looking at services county by county which is a welcome development for people with dementia in Ireland as then families can lobby politicians for adequate services.
The greatest joy was having my friends, Agnes and Nancy from Scotland together with Chris and Jayne from Wales, visit my home. We had lots of laughter and I can still cook an Irish breakfast!!! Thanks to Carmel Geoghegan, it was so heartening to have my Scottish and Welsh friends join me  on Irish Television discussing rural dementia.