As the first born of a family of five I learned early that it was important to help others, to share what I had, do what I could.. My father was a preacher, my mom was a war bride from England who shared Dad’s passion to help others. We lived in many communities – often seeing the poorest and most demoralized members of society. Some had addictions, suffered and struggled to have a better life. My parents did an outreach ministry in every community they were part of.
My first job in the 1960’s was as a nurse’s aide in a nursing home. At 17 years old this was the beginning of a life-long career. Life became busy raising two children and helping run various family businesses but I always came back to caring for others.
My first grandchild was born in 1995 with a rare genetic disorder – Emanuel Syndrome – so rare that no doctor had answers for the family. Seeing my granddaughter non-verbal, needing total care and dependent for every bite of food, every activity of daily living – increased my urgent desire to speak for her and many like her. After earning my Personal Support Worker certificate I returned to caregiving full time to support myself as well as make a difference for others.
My granddaughter is now in a long-term group home and will always need support. I did assist for several years in her care. She is now 19 years of age. Her care will always be important to me..as she is.
In retirement homes, nursing homes and community care I saw concerns relating to the care and support of vulnerable residents. There were gaps in the care given, never enough time, not enough emotional or one on one support. Getting involved with social media like Facebook and especially Twitter has become a way to share stories, learn from others and raise awareness.
Being active in TweetChats that focus on patient and health issues has become a regular part of my life. Its an honour to have been included as co-host and moderator in some chats – discussing the value of patient perspective. Nothing about me without me is the catch phrase. Caregiving is often overlooked and undervalued. It’s one of the most important things that will be given to those who are sick, disabled, for palliative care or hospice care at the end of life.
Having worked in long term care, retirement and community care drives me to ensure clients and residents get the best care. Regina Holliday kindly added my Walking Gallery Jacket called “Generations” to her incredible group of patient stories. It’s a valuable way to open conversations about caregiving and a personal perspective.
I look forward to learning more at the Medicine X conference. Seniors, patients and their spouses and families need an advocate.. As a citizen and new senior it is important to raise awareness, use my voice, make a difference and include all segments of society.