I never fully realised what my career paths as a Registered Nurse, Paramedic, Dementia Consultant and Marriage/Funeral Celebrant were ultimately preparing me for until now. Those experiences placed me in a unique and privileged position to work with those impacted by dementia in a diversity of settings.
The “why” came during my very first job over 25 years ago. I worked with Olive during her final stage of dementia. We as staff were very task focused and although we provided good personal care, no one ever spent quality time with her. By quality, I mean time spent holding her hand or having a conversation. Nobody ever visited and nobody tried to connect with her during her final months on this earth. Many years later I discovered who Olive had been in life and it broke my heart. I stood in silence and shed tears for a woman I had cared for but never really knew. Tears for a woman that none of us had realised held a significant story within.
It was Olive’s story and many more that followed that ultimately led me to where I am now. End of life care for someone with dementia was non-existent and I knew that needed to change. I also knew it would only be possible by creating something different in a way not done before. Something that would influence the end stage of dementia and provide more for the person than just good clinical and personal care.
Through a unique set of circumstances, the Dementia Doula role evolved. But why the term Doula I hear you ask? The definition of a Doula is “a professional who provides support and assistance to individuals or families, especially during a medical or emotional crisis (used in combination): end of life doulas who offer comfort and companionship to dying patients”. So really, it seemed the obvious path. A long overdue role that would stand by the side of family and ultimately the person themselves. A role that would give passionate people like you and I an opportunity to do more. A role through which to educate, support, influence and create a community of connection and compassion. A role that ensured the final months or years were experienced in true comfort and peace – and that no one died alone.
This was the beginning of compassionate care and finally provided the missing piece. I realised early on it wasn’t something I could do on my own. I knew I needed to surround myself with like-minded people who would share in my vision. (I know there are more of you out there). Dementia Doulas International provided me with the platform to connect and support others along the way. I know you have it in you to make a difference and together we’ll do just that.
Why not check out more of Mabel the Dementia Doula dog on her Instagram Page.
“Let nothing dim the light that shines from within” – Maya Angelou