You have the power, use it

This blog was written by Jemma Galbraith, Carer Involvement Lead, Scotland

Dementia awareness week seems like the perfect opportunity to reflect on my first couple of months being part of the tide team. In that time I’ve been lucky enough to hear carers from different parts of Scotland share their stories and observe the look on fellow carers faces when they realise they’re not alone in the role that they have taken on, generally with little choice, for which they have no training and little support, the only ‘qualification’ being the fact that they care.

The team at tide have been amazing at welcoming me, showing me the ropes and introducing me to our values of transparency, tenacity, inclusion and empathy. Values that are as important to me in my home life as my work life and I hope to instil in my two young children. The team been with me every step of the way so far so you can probably imagine it was a little daunting when a few weeks ago I found out at the last minute I was going to be flying solo at the Life Changes Trust Community & Dementia Creating better lives conference in Orkney! Thanks to an airplane fault I had no materials either. But fear not, the Orcadians made me feel right at home. I was privileged to hear about the fantastic initiatives in Orkney for carers and people with dementia, to sing along with their dementia choir and to meet colleagues for many other national organisations such as Scottish Health Council, Police Scotland and Age Scotland. It was also an honour to witness two carers, Ann Tait and Merle Wells, sharing a poem they’d written about their experiences. A very thought provoking moment and a highlight of the conference for many of us in the audience.

‘A carers’ life is very strange, life’s dreams go all awry’

Before the short flight home I was even lucky enough to be shown a few Orkney’s incredible ancient sites by a friendly local. I will definitely be returning to explore again with my family in the future.

As well as Orkney, my role covers many other areas including the Highlands and Islands, Fife, Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire and Dundee – slightly overwhelming when you’re new to a role and want to be able to reach out to each area all at once! But hopefully, with a little time and focus we’ll manage to reach every area in the next year or so. We’re also looking into ways we can make our network services easier to access, at locations and times to suit everyone. Hopefully soon even from the comfort of your own home if that’s your preference.

I’ve worked in dementia care for many years but this is the first role where I have the opportunity to focus on carers. I’m looking forward to sharing your experiences, hearing about the challenges you face on a daily basis, learning if the issues faced are similar in different locations and communities and working together to support change at both local and national levels.

We’re are very lucky to be funded by the Life Changes Trust and to be able to provide our services free of charge. We’re also able to cover travel expenses and cover the cost of replacement care so please bear that in mind. We want to help reduce any barriers there may be in preventing you from joining us.

I plan on coming to a town near you soon so keep your eyes peeled. If you haven’t already, sign up here to receive our newsletter so you don’t miss out on information about our forthcoming events in Aberdeenshire, Inverness, Glasgow, Fife and Skye. And please contact us if you’d like us to come to your area and tell you more about what we do.
I hope to have the opportunity in the future to meet you , hear your story and work together to create positive change.

In the words of Ann and Merle

‘Now is the time to put in place what is needed for those who care

Thanks to the Life Changes Trust you can watch Ann and Merle’s full poem here