The name Authentic Dementia was inspired by my mum. It is not to say that other peoples experience is not authentic, it is of course. For me, having spent 3 years grieving the loss of the parents I once had, I reached the decision that I needed to be proactive and began a journey of discovering what could be possible and positive in living with dementia. I learned that there is much to be positive about. I believe that if we work through that initial grief, that the way we live, communicate and be with people with dementia they can actually be our greatest teachers. At least that is what I believe and I would welcome the opportunity of supporting you to experience part of what I have. My husband Pat, son Simon and daughter Clare have walked this journey with me without them I might not have got here!
My family are my joy.
I have worked in social care services for 35 years, mainly in the learning disability sector. I managed day and respite services for adults with a learning disability and complex needs.
In 2001 I trained as a life coach with a view to setting up in business.
I am currently a Service Manager in person-centred planning. Nine years ago as I planned to set up my business, I began to realise that all was not well with my Mum. Following a series of doctors’ visits, my darling Mum was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s on 11th July 2006. My Dad’s health also deteriorated and following six months in an acute hospital ward, dad had a brain scan, which diagnosed vascular dementia. Life was never to be the same, no business, work diminished, exhaustion sadness and despair took over.
From my own experiences over these nine years, I developed a passion around this illness and how it affects individuals, families and carers. I have been a volunteer with Alzheimer Scotland for 5 years and for 13 years with Marie Curie. I have a deep interest in end of life care and communication with people who may not use words to communicate. I have taken part in four Alzheimer and dementia awareness-raising DVDs and developed my own DVD with mum.
I am an activist and member of Alzheimer’s Scotland Council and vice chair of NDCAN (National Dementia Carers Action Network). Our group cares passionately about the impact this illness has on our loved ones and on society as a whole. The emotional impact of being a carer is sometimes hard to carry.
I am also a lay assessor with the care inspectorate as I care about making a difference for those living in care homes – my parents both live in a care home. Sadly my dad died in 2012 but his personal faith inspired me to develop important work raising awareness through speaking in churches about dementia. Making things better isn’t always difficult to do. We need time and resources and love and care to find practical ways of improving services. I have participated voluntarily in articles and educational DVD’s with Alzheimer Scotland NHS Scotland, SSSC, the Care Inspectorate, Glasgow and Bishopbriggs Herald around end of life care, experience of people with dementia in hospitals, training for newly qualified social workers and other publications.
Mum’s Alzheimer’s is advanced and she is quite the most beautiful person I know for she is my greatest teacher. I visit her daily and sometimes not one word is spoken yet they are some of the best conversations I have.
l do what do because my parents taught me the values I hold dear, that regardless of labels and illnesses we all have the human rights to be treated with dignity and respect. I do consultancy work around supporting people with dementia and their carers.
What I can offer:
Training for carers using life coaching techniques. Many peoples work/life balance is out of kilter and this day offers positive ways to address these and look after yourself. As a result others receive a better quality of care.
Transition work for people with dementia ready to move from day services – this can be a delicate time. Using person centred approaches, I can assist people to plan in a sensitive way.
Person centred planning for people with dementia and those that care for them. This approach works brilliantly to highlight outcomes if you are at a stage of planning to receive your Self Directed `Support budget.
Workshops titled ‘Restoring the Balance’ with John Killick. This can be a half or full day looking at creative ways of caring.
I am available to speak at conferences about my own experience and deliver workshops for those interested in understanding more about this illness.
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