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Care home gives concert pianist kid's keyboard to play with: Wife's fury as leading musician fights to fend off dementia
Raymond Banning is a former Professor of Piano at Trinity College of Music and has performed around the worldThe musician has two grand pianos worth 30,000 in his home – but was given a 99 plastic keyboard to playHis wife Lorraine says 'it's an insult' as she fights to have him brought backMr Banning has Pick's disease, which is similar to Alzheimer's and needs 24 hour careNHS bosses will decide this week whether he can be sent home
13:14 GMT, 25 June 2012
A leading concert pianist with a rare form of dementia has been given a cheap plastic keyboard to play on in his care home.
Raymond Banning, 60, is suffering from the advanced stages of Pick's disease and his wife desperately wants him to be able to spend his final days at home.
The former Professor of Piano at Trinity College of Music in London controls his condition by playing music.
Leading musician: Raymond Banning, 60, and his grand piano (rear) in a family photo. He is now in a care home and has been left with a cheap 99 keyboard
He has been forced to play the cheap children's instrument despite complaints from his wife – and having two grand pianos worth 30,000 in his home in Bedford.
Lorraine, 48, is pleading for him to be discharged but he will need 24 hour home care because she has a spinal disease and osteoarthritis so is unable to look after him alone.
The pianist has performed around the world raising thousands for charity and has taught generations of youngsters how to play.
But his world changed in May 2010 when he was diagnosed with Pick's Disease, a rare degenerative condition which is similar to Alzheimer's.
He was finally put in Chase House care home in Arlesey, Bedfordshire, last December as his condition got worse.
Happy: Mr Banning, a leading pianist, with his wife Lorraine, 48, during a day out. She is fighting to have him brought home
'Child's toy': The 99 keyboard which has been put in Mr Banning's room in a care home. His wife describes it as an 'insult'
His wife, who is also a piano teacher, said he could have just a few weeks left to live and has appointed a solicitor as she fights to have him brought back.
She has been fighting the decision to put him into care since last December – and has accused the NHS of using 'delaying tactics' to keep him in care for the last six months.
She said: 'Giving him a cheap keyboard is an insult. One of the biggest arguments for him being brought home is his need for music but they came up with this keyboard which I was totally against.
Treatment: Mr Banning in his care home. He is suffering from the advanced stages of Pick's disease
'He has always argued about the best way to make a beautiful sound and would never play a keyboard.
'It is a misunderstanding of who he is.
'I told them my husband does not play keyboards but they did not listen and refused to take it away. He was asked by care home staff if he likes it and he said “yes”.
'He knows all about keyboard and because of his condition they thought they were asking about music – so he did not understand the question.'
Rather than provide him with a more expensive instrument, Mrs Banning wants her husband back home – which she says would be the best possible treatment for him.
She has accused NHS Bedfordshire of putting Mr Banning in care because it is cheaper than caring for him in the home – which they deny.
The pianist grew up on a council estate and rose to become one of the country's leading performers.
He met Lorraine, his second wife, on a piano weekend in Bath in 2006 and they married two years later.
Mr Banning does not have any children but has two step-children who he treats as his own.
Mrs Banning added: 'His illness is at an advanced stage and he could die at any time. He is in a stable condition but he has suffered fitting and has difficulties swallowing.'
'He has been in a home since December 15 but I want to bring him home so he can be cared for here and he wants to be home.
Happy couple: Mr Banning with his new wife Lorraine on their wedding day in 2008. They had met just two years beforehand during a piano weekend in Bath
'The PCT are refusing to let me bring him back and for the last few months they have come up with reasons why they should delay things. It has been a really difficult time.'
Mrs Banning still teaches piano and worked in a childrens' hospice for eight years before she met her husband.
The couple have grand piano's made by Schimmel and Kawai in their home.
A spokesman for NHS Bedfordshire said a decision on whether the patient should be sent home will be taken by the end of the week.
'NHS Bedfordshire is already providing 24 hour care for Mr Banning. We are now looking at whether we can provide this care at home and are considering the wide range of issues that need to be addressed to achieve this.
'Mrs Banning is aware that we are making our decision this week. This will be based solely on what is considered to be most appropriate to meet Mr Banning’s ongoing healthcare needs, following a very detailed assessment.
'NHS Bedfordshire is responsible for funding Mr Banning’s continuing health care and was not involved in providing him with a keyboard.'
Happy: Mr Banning, left, was put in a care home last December after being diagnosed with Pick's disease in May 2010