Meet Sube Banerjee, who is on Alzheimer’s Society’s Board of Trustees.
Why dementia, why the Society?
I was convinced I was going to be a child psychiatrist until, a year into my training, I started working with older people with mental health problems and people with dementia. I was so taken by the amazing stories they had, and by how much could be done to help by services but which was not being done.
More recently, my father had vascular dementia and my grandmother had Alzheimer’s. Supporting my mother as she looked after them reinforced my commitment to improving care, and the Society is at the forefront of making dementia a priority.
How to fill an unexpected day off?
I’d like to stay in bed, but my dog Stanley wouldn’t let me! So it would first be a walk by the sea on the Rame Peninsula – a beautiful corner of Cornwall just across from Plymouth, where I work.
Then I would jump on my carbon-neutral magic carpet, with Stanley, which would take me back to London and I’d go to the National Theatre with my wife. The play would be great and that would be a perfect evening.
Seeing my children grow up to be such great people (nothing to do with me, everything to do with my wife).
My oldest son, Manny, is 26 and he is autistic and has learning disabilities. He’s just finished a film course and produced a brilliant documentary on the ‘superpowers’ of people with disabilities.
My younger son, Jasper, has been at university all over the pandemic and has, despite the adversity, produced some absolutely beautiful pieces of work, again in film.
Worst advice you’ve been given?
A very senior academic said it was vital for me to focus only on research – I shouldn’t spend time developing services and I certainly shouldn’t prioritise clinical work.
I nodded and said I was extremely grateful for the advice, which I had already disregarded as I left his rather grand office.
Complex problems need multifaceted responses and I knew that I needed to innovate, deliver and lead services, as well as evaluate them, so we could get to a better place.
Biggest priority for coming months?
To help the Society make the case that dementia needs to get right back as the top health and care priority. In the 18 months of the pandemic, policy and priority for people with dementia has gone back what seems like 18 years.
Our job is to win back those 18 years of progress over the next 18 weeks.
Most important thing learned from a person with dementia?
From all people with dementia, that a person with dementia has all the same desires, needs, wants and interests, the same aspirations, sadnesses, glories and successes as any other person.
People with dementia are people first and foremost – dementia doesn’t make you any less of a person.
Most looking forward to?
To things being different. To society rediscovering that we need to be able to do more than one thing at once and not focusing solely on COVID. To developing a different approach to health and social care, that respects and values older people and their life quality.
I’m also looking forward to spending a lot less time on Zoom and more time with humans!
We need your help
We can’t keep our phone lines open or manage the increase in demand for our services without financial support. Please donate today – with your help, we can show people living with dementia that they aren’t alone.