Although I had worked in health & social care for 35 years, mostly in older people’s services, nothing prepared me for my caring role. I found it a huge struggle trying to get the right care for my dad at the right time so that he could stay living alone independently at home, so much so that I didn’t recognise my own needs. I was working at the time and looking back I can now see how my health suffered. I was lucky enough to have the support of Admiral Nurse, without whom I know Dad would have gone into a care home much sooner.
Since Dad died I have dedicated my time to ensuring that carers are recognised and respected as experts. I have been involved in a number of national policy initiatives and was instrumental in setting up the national Carers Call2Action within the Dementia Action Alliance and its legacy tide – together in dementia everyday.
tide is hosted by the Life Story Network which I co-founded after seeing the benefits of life story work for my late father. I am passionate about supporting family carers to have a voice, to be partners in care and use their experience to help other carers as well as professionals so that services continue to improve.
With the Life Story Network I am proud to work with family carers to build their resilience by focusing on communication & relationships using narrative therapy.
I am currently a member of the Board of the National Dementia Action Alliance, Public Health England Dementia Governance Board, Dementia Expert Reference Group for Achieving Better Access to Mental Health Services (NHSE and NICE), Royal College of Nursing Nursing Advisory Group, a member of the Programme Board for ‘Effective Home Support in Dementia Care’ with University of Manchester, and a member of the Steering Group for the Evaluation of Specialist Nursing Support for carers of People with Dementia.