I live in Glasgow and have been a member of the Scottish Dementia Working Group (SDWG) since 2019, following my diagnosis of Frontotemporal dementia in 2016 at the age of 51. Having worked all my life from leaving school I enjoyed a varied PA career at director level. My final position was with a large well know organisation with whom I worked for 11 years. Following problems with my memory, which resulted in an Occupational Health assessment, I was told by my employer that I could not continue my work. Being told that I had to give up my work was an upsetting end to my employment, particularly so as I was told that I could have continued to work had my health condition been of a different nature. Because of this experience I am passionate about improving the working environment for people living with dementia.
Thanks to my Neuro Consultant I made contact with a Dementia Resource Centre in Glasgow and received a warm welcome and great support. Through it I discovered the SDWG and welcomed the opportunity to have my voice heard, to campaign for the rights of people with dementia, and to meet people from all walks of life with experiences like my own. Through the SDWG I have been able to play a part in influencing dementia policy and practice in Scotland. Most recently I contributed to a new training resource ‘Occupational Therapy and Dementia’ which promotes Inclusion, Rights and Opportunities for people living with dementia. The book closes with a last word from myself - “no matter what the diagnosis is, always make sure you see the person as a person”. Sharing experiences with Allied Health Professionals on Occupational Therapy Home Based Memory Rehabilitation, I took part in a short film with other SDWG members discussing how we adapt and what works well, and focuses on what we can do, not what we can’t. I am a member of a working group exploring service delivery for people with Young Onset Dementia in Scotland, and identifying ‘best practice’ with the aim of improving access to appropriate services for people under the age of 65 who are living with dementia.
Working with the Scottish Social Services Council I have helped to deliver lived experiences to care home and care at home staff on a programme titled “Dementia Ambassadors”, promoting person and family centred care and community connections. I have a love of music and am an active member of the Scottish Opera community choir. I value the support my family and friends have given me throughout my dementia journey by treating me with respect and dignity. I was honoured to be nominated by Alzheimer Scotland to the European Working Group of People With Dementia, and am delighted to have the opportunity of serving as the Group’s Vice Chair. I look forward to working with colleagues from across Europe to help ensure that the work of Alzheimer Europe reflects the priorities and views of people living with dementia.