Interview with Rosie Moar

Recently, Uist Beo interviewed members of Tagsa Uibhist’s Care team. Here follows their interview with Tagsa’s Post Diagnostic Support Link Worker (Dementia), Rosie Moar:

Rosie is one of about 30 staff between Eriskay and Berneray who works with Tagsa’s Care Department, making sure that people who need a bit of extra help can live as independently as possible at home for as long as they can. She’s also taken on a new role as a Dementia Link Worker and she is currently the only person doing this job from Berneray to Eriskay.

A Dementia Link Worker works with an individual and their family after having an initial diagnosis of dementia.  After a psychiatrist has diagnosed an individual they will refer that person for Post Diagnostic Support to Rosie, who will work with them and their family for a year to help them understand their diagnosis. She works with individuals, sign-posting them to the local groups who can bring them into the community and keep them active and independent in their own home. She also gives support in putting a power of attorney in place.

“When I’ve gone into someone’s home for the first time, you can see the look of fear in their eyes. A lot of people think that when they get a diagnosis of dementia that their life is over. They need to be reassured that their life is not over, it is a new chapter in their life that can be positive and have new challenges to it that they will not be going through alone.”

“They sometimes panic about losing their driving licence and not being able to get anywhere. Or being stuck in the house, and not seeing anyone all day.  You have to try and encourage them to get out and do as much as they can. Families need to be supported too, as they worry so much about their loved one losing the ability to do certain things. They know that I am a phone call away if they need advice or support.”

Just now, there are various groups on the island, like Caraidean Uibhist who can bring people out into the community. Tagsa also run activities through their Adult Support Services including walks, Arts & Crafts groups, gardening club and their community gardens have been very popular.

“People have their own plots at the Tagsa Gardens where they grow vegetables and flowers. They all love it, as it gets them out and it’s great for their physical and mental health. You should see the look on people’s faces in the summertime when they’re picking carrots, onions and lettuce, and then taking it back home and having it for their dinner. It’s really nice.”

“It’s important for people to get out and keep themselves active, whether they just go out for walks. I started some Paths For All health walks a few months ago and they are popular. They’re usually on every couple of weeks. We end up going somewhere for a cup of tea and a bit of cake afterwards. People have said the walk was good, but the chat afterwards is even better. Some of them got stuff off their chest that they were worried about. Basically, it’s just like a lovely group therapy session.  It helps everyone out.”

Like any disease, life can be very difficult for the families of the person living with dementia. It’s difficult for people to see their loved one forgetting things and then sometimes not being able to care for themselves or even feed themselves. There are various things to think about, depending on how the illness has progressed. However, Tagsa and Rosie are there to help during this time.

“When I do my initial PDS visit, I usually contact a family member, first of all, and organise a day and a time for me to go for my first visit. I’ll meet them to gain an insight into what their mum or their dad is like or what’s been happening to them. I always do a visit every couple of weeks to make sure they’re okay. Family members always know that they can call me if they’ve got any concerns whatsoever.”

Depending on what stage their dementia is at, people can still be very functional. Rosie mentions that “there are some people who are in the early stages of it that don’t need any carers going in whatsoever. They’re perfectly capable of washing and dressing themselves, feeding themselves and giving themselves medication. But if I then see that they’re at the stage where they are struggling, then I can refer them to social work. And it’s then social work will assess them for a package of care.”

“You have to make sure that they get as much support as possible as well. And that’s why it’s really good having carers groups like Western Isles Community Care Forum as well.

Catherine McDougall runs WICCF in Uist and she’s fantastic. She looks after the unpaid Carers out there.  I always sign post everyone to her, and she’ll go out and she’ll help the family members and take them out to meetings. They’re usually in various places dotted around the island.”

Thinking back, Rosie talks about how these kind of services were not available when her family was faced with the illness.

“My dad had vascular dementia, he passed away eleven years ago. At the time of his diagnosis, there was no help for us at all apart from the CPN who was absolutely brilliant.  There were no Dementia Link Workers or Groups that we could take my Dad to.  So it’s great that all these groups have formed and work together. It’s great that there’s a Dementia Link Worker here now as well.”

As a person gets older or their health declines, care workers become very involved in an individual’s life and Rosie mentions “You end up being like a member of a family and the hard part of the job is when someone passes away because you’ve been in and out of that house for maybe two or three years, sometimes four times a day. When they pass away it’s like a member of your own family passing away. That’s the hard part of the job.”

To finish off our conversation, Uist Beò asked Rosie about life as a carer and what she would say to anyone who was looking to work with Tagsa.

“I would say go for it. You’re not going to know whether you like the job or not until you try it. So, yeah, go for it, because if you don’t try you will never know how rewarding this job is.  It is a great job and you get so much job satisfaction knowing that you are making a difference to someone’s life.

I love it. It’s such a privilege to be able to go into someone’s home and care for them. And we have such a supporting team at Tagsa as well. It’s really good. If you’ve got any concerns at all, just pick up the phone and speak to Sarah or Kirsty and it’s always dealt with quite quickly, so it’s great.

I love caring for people. I just get total job satisfaction. I like knowing that I’m helping people. People have actually said to me as well that it’s amazing how their mum or dad have become more independent since I started coming to see them and that they seem a lot happier. It’s just total peace of mind for them as well, knowing that I’m around.”

I absolutely love it. I wish I’d done it years ago. Yeah. Best job I’ve ever done in my life.’

If you would like to contact Tagsa for some support, or if you’re interested in a job in the care sector you can get in touch with Sarah on her email or you can call 01870 602111.

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