My late husband Frankie and I began the Frank’s Law campaign in 2013. He had been diagnosed with dementia aged 59, and it was during his journey with the disease that we were to discover the discrimination against the under 65s who seemed to have ‘broken the rules’ by becoming ill before the age of 65. These people had been assessed as needing personal care, and were charged for it, but if they were over 65 it would be free.
No disease, disability, illness or condition waits until a person reaches 65 then strikes.
"Tell them Amanda, it's too late for me, but it will help others in the future". These are the words that Frankie said to me, and it was the moment which the Frank’s Law campaign started in 2013.
As promised, I began to tell them, and finally in September 2017, it was announced in Holyrood that Frank’s Law would become legislation to end the discrimination against the under 65s.
Sadly, Frankie lost his battle with dementia which he had fought with great strength, courage and dignity, 19 days after his 65th birthday. He and I both knew his battle with dementia was one which he would never win, however we knew that the battle for Frank’s Law was a battle which could be won to help others.
I am delighted that in the last few years there is much more awareness about dementia, especially that it is not just a disease of the elderly as we, like many I'm sure, always thought it was.
There is still much more to be done, and so last month I was delighted to be part of a group from Kirriemuir (first dementia friendly town in Angus) who visited the DSDC at the Iris Murdoch Building at the University of Stirling.
The group, resplendent in Frank’s Law t shirts, visited the DSDC for a session about spirituality and dementia. We wanted to understand how the church can better respond to people with and affected by dementia. Pauline Cameron (a registered mental health nurse), who delivered the training session, enlightened us with her dedication and passion to help others.
I was very impressed by the Design and Technology Suite which had been purposely built to display the DSDC’s dementia design principles. A lot of thought has gone into the design and the items in the rooms.
Certainly I feel that more groups should be made aware of the wonderful work which the University of Stirling and the DSDC are doing to help raise awareness to help people with dementia, and their carers.
Many thanks, once again to everyone for making us very welcome, keep up the good work!