Revolutionising  the support for dementia caregivers

Martin Luther King Jr once said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: “What are you doing for others?”

I have always been passionate about nursing; from my early days in primary school I never thought of doing anything else. I joined the nursing profession in my native Trinidad & Tobago and moved to London in 1990. I began work in the UK at a Continuing Care Home for older people and enrolled at the Royal College of Nursing. I received my Diploma in Nursing followed by my BSc in Nursing Studies from the University of Manchester.

I’ve held various positions all in the field of mental health of older people. It has not always been smooth sailing – for example, a colleague decided to remind me of my place by saying at a staff gathering, “I don’t see the point of all this studying when you still have to come to work and clean sh*t. Don’t you get it? YOUR JOB IS TO CLEAN SH*T”.

In 1995, I was seconded to a new job and was accepted to study for a Post Graduate Diploma in Nursing Education at South Bank University. Upon breaking the news, my manager snapped that she did not want people running off to University, she just wanted people to work. A few days later, I was blind-sided by a kangaroo-court meeting, found guilty, of what I have no idea, and was given a few minutes to clear my desk and evacuate the building before they changed the locks. There has never been any follow-up of the charges, no disciplinary and no opportunity for representation.

Despite the harrowing challenges, I went on to be awarded my Postgraduate Diploma in 1999, followed by my MSc in Nursing with Education in 2003, equipping me to teach Dementia Care and Mental Health Nursing at King’s College London, which has been my most interesting and beloved job.

I have had the privilege of working closely with many different consultants and professors of Old Age Psychiatry throughout my career. Constant learning is essential to this role, especially in an age where effective medical advances in treatments have been made. Despite our developed understanding of dementia, it is now overtaking heart disease and cancer as the leading cause of death in over 65s. Populations across the globe are living longer and the number of people developing dementia is set to rise worldwide, so it is imperative we act now.

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Ann Bird

Global Dementia Care

http://www.globaldementiacare.com

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