Georgie Marple is a recent graduate from Sheffield University and worked for Dementia Carers Count as an Administrative Assistant in Summer 2019. In this blog, Georgie shares what it was like working at DCC and her family’s own experience of dementia.
Over the month of July, I’ve had the opportunity to work with Dementia Carers Count. I’ve learnt so much and I’m grateful for the friendly and welcoming working environment formed by the DCC team from the first day I got here. Everyone has been patient and happy to help me, which was very refreshing as this is my first experience of working in an office environment. I’ve worked on a wide variety of tasks during my time here, such as organising and sending course leaflets, scanning, and sorting and entering data onto Excel.
Aside from the administrative skills that I have learnt, this past month has taught me so much about dementia. It has been interesting to learn about other colleagues’ experiences with dementia and to see how passionate the team are about helping and supporting those whose lives have been impacted by dementia. I have loved learning many interesting and random facts, such as Wotsits being a good snack for a person who has swallowing difficulties. I look forward to sharing the facts that I have learnt with my family and people around me who are experiencing dementia.
Dementia is something that I have always had a vague knowledge and understanding of, and subsequently always feared, but something that I never really thought I would come into such close contact with. It is unique, and as there is no real cure, it is about adapting to life when someone close to you has it. It is relatively new for my family and, in my experience, it is a very difficult concept to grasp and accept. I have been lucky enough to have grown up with an incredible rapport with my Grandpa over the last twenty years. Whilst some aspects of his cognitive and physical ability may be declining due to his recent diagnosis of vascular dementia, he still constantly makes me laugh and tells the same old jokes (though there are so many that he often requires prompting to remember the punchline.) He often makes a joke out of being forgetful or doing something wrong. He will always respond in a jokey, reassuring way saying “no, I meant to do that” (when it was obvious that he didn’t) with a wry smile. It is a comfort to see the sides of Grandpa’s personality that I have always been familiar with are still prominent now.
This is something that no one should have to face alone. As a very close family, we all try to help and support my grandparents as much as we can – whether that’s visiting Nanny and Grandpa to let Nanny relax a little bit or even just sending a text to check up on them both. No matter the size of our gestures, they are always so endlessly grateful and appreciative. It has put things into perspective for me and taught me that something that feels like a small gesture to me, can really go a long way for someone else.
Becoming a family dementia carer often happens silently. Currently, around 700,000 families in the UK care for people with dementia. Dementia Carers Count seek to support people, like my Nanny, that care for a loved one with dementia – whether that’s a friend or a family member. They are there to offer support and information about coping and adapting to life as a family dementia carer through their courses led by healthcare professionals and the Virtual Carers Centre.
I believe that it is essential for family dementia carers to interact and speak to other people about their experiences – not just friends and family but also professionals. Dementia can be terrifying, but it is reassuring to know that people around you understand how you feel and can advise you. This is exactly what DCC’s courses do. Their purpose is to educate and support carers and give them comfort in knowing that they are not alone. They also introduce family dementia carers to each other, helping them to find people who they can empathise with and exchange stories and advice with.
I have enjoyed watching the DCC team reach out to carers and help them decide which course would be most fitting for them. Observing and learning about this has fascinated me. The way members of the team take the time to individually speak to carers, embodies the dedication and compassion that is at the heart of Dementia Carers Count. I have loved working here, the people I have met and the amount I’ve learnt have helped make my time with DCC a memorable experience.
Show your support for dementia family carers, like Georgie’s Nanny, by registering for our virtual conference ‘Every Small Step – making dementia carers count’. During the conference, we’ll be sharing just some of the untold stories of the 700,000 friends and family members caring for someone with dementia in the UK today, and we really want you to listen. Here’s the link to join us.