Professional v Daughter – In Their Shoes

As part of Alzheimer's Awareness month, we are profiling our staff as we take a walk 'In their shoes'.

Our Chief Operating Officer Sue Austin kicks off the campaign as she explains how she has applied her personal experience with dementia into her professional work.

“When someone you love is diagnosed with Dementia, their world and your world as you know it changes.

As the person struggles to deal with the memory loss and confusion, you struggle to deal with the loss that you feel.

In the early days when my Mother started to do things that were out of character, I recognised the signs, I knew what I was seeing, but I didn’t want to see, I didn’t want to accept it.

As a professional; a Registered Nurse, I had cared for and supported many people living with dementia and supported their loved ones throughout my career.

 I was the person to whom so many people had turned to over the years for advice and support, and now I was the person in need. I needed the same explanations, the same advice and the same support as any other daughter, I didn’t want to be the professional, I wanted to be a novice, I needed to be my Mother’s daughter. I didn’t want to be regarded as a professional, I didn’t want it to be noted in my Mother’s records “daughter is health care professional”

 This is my Mother; I needed the professionals to not overlook that I was a daughter grieving the loss of the person as I knew her.

As a professional there was often an expectation by myself and others that I should have all the answers, I should know what to expect, be able to resolve all the problems.

My Mother had been the one person throughout my life to who I had turned to, who could I turn to now? I felt lost.

The most difficult part is coming to terms with the changes in the person; no longer the strong spirited woman who filled the room with laughter and vibrance.

But you do adapt and you do adjust; I still have my Mother, changed in so many ways; but still the woman that has loved me and who I have loved.

Because I have my own experience with my Mother, it equips me better to really empathise with families supporting their loved ones with dementia, and importantly, it absolutely drives my passion to ensure that the care and support to residents and families for whom Morris Care have been entrusted, is the best it can possibly be”.

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