Today I stand on Battle Ship Misouri in Pearl Harbour on the very spot where the surrender of Japan to Allied Forces took place on 2nd September 1945 which marked the end of World War II. This symbolic spot provides a powerful final reflection point in my Winston Churchill fellowship travels.
During my travels I have seen constant reminders of the links between UK, Japan and USA. I see plaques and memorials, museums and memorabilia reminding me of the devastation of World War II – and in particular of Pearl Harbour and Hiroshima. Visiting these 2 sites months apart bring it home to me of the loss and devastation of innocent lives.
I see evidence of the building of relationships between these countries, like the plaque in Monterey celebrating the 20 year anniversary of the twinning of townships between Monterey and Nanao. I see people of all nationalities visiting museums and World War II sites to pay their respects, like the Midway USS naval museum in San Diego.
2015 is a symbolic year – the 50th anniversary of the death of Winston Churchill and 70 years since the end of World War II. As I stand at Pearl Harbour I consider how these countries are now fighting on a united front – the battle this time is not over territory and power but one of the most feared and devastating diseases of our time – dementia.
Through the G7 collaboration Japan, USA and UK are working together with other countries across the world to find innovative solutions to improving the quality of care for people with dementia, to invest in research and ultimately to find a cure.
However, we know that many people with dementia can live well and given the right support and care, can remain resilient and stay connected to their communities. It is this aspect of care quality which has been the focus of my Winston Churchill fellowship and has taken me to Japan and USA to compare practice with the UK in order to share insights.
During this time I have heard about the national plans and strategies for dementia and have seen how these plans are being implemented in practice. I have met key organisations and individuals at the cutting edge of improving dementia care and have been privileged to meet people living with dementia and their families and heard first hand what keeps them resilient and positive. I have been amazed by innovative examples of practice and of the vision of leaders at all levels with a passion for improving the experience and care for people with dementia and their family carers.
I have heard about the challenges of complex systems and healthcare insurance, of different cultures and how diversity is being valued and supported. I have heard about social movements how the voices of people with dementia and carers are being heard and valued. I have seen personalised planning and person centred care in practice and most of all I have witnessed compassion, dignity and respect – for me the heart of improving dementia care and support.
During my travels I have kept a blog to capture my experience in the moment and help share my reflections, as well as help with reminders when writing my final report. You can view these via: https://dementiakeepingconnected.wordpress.com
Reflection Points during my Winston Churchill travels have included:
Japan: May 2015
Hiroshima peace memorial park and museum
Kinkakuji, the beautiful Golden Pavillion in Kyoto
Miyajima Island with the beautiful temple ‘floating’ in the water
Cycling along the river banks and and narrow streets of Kyoto
Cycling around the lush green countryside of Kyoto and taking in the nature and beauty of Japan, discovering ancient temples nestled in the trees and hills
Sitting on the Bullet train from Tokyo to Kyoto and admiring Mount Fuji
Sendai – the site of the tsunami and earthquake of 2011
USA: October – November 2015
Standing at the spot where Marin Luther King gave ‘I have a dream’ speech in 1963 which would change the American history for ever, and looking out to the reflection pool at the Lincoln memorial reflecting on Lincoln’s aspirations of equality.
Sitting at Conorado Beach, San Diego watching the crashing waves and pure white sandy deserted beach and crashing waves.
Cycling across the iconic Golden Gate Bridge and along beach fronts in Monterey, Santa Barbara and Santa Monica, taking in the drama of the rugged Californian coastline, white sandy beaches, wildlife and surf.
World War II memorials and reflecting on the history and loss of innocent lives.
Pearl Harbour, Hawaii