Lead Senior Support Worker and Dementia Champion, Debbie Moore, has been a key member of the team at Belong Wigan since the village first opened in February 2009. She has a passion for helping people that are living with dementia and works around the clock to educate staff and members of the local community about ways to create a calming, supportive environment for people living with dementia.
"I've worked in care for over half of my life. My career started almost by accident, when I was studying health and social care at college and had to fulfill two practical work placements. I most enjoyed the placement in a care home, so applied for a position as a temporary Assistant Support Worker at a CLS home. I've been working in care ever since and I wouldn't change it if I could. Since then I was promoted to a full time position, then Senior Support Worker, followed by Team Leader and now I work as a Lead Senior Support Worker.
Championing people living with dementia
"In addition to my other responsibilities, I became a Dementia Champion a couple of years ago, a role that I love with a passion. As part of that role I now have the freedom to come out of Acacia House, where I was previously based, and offer support to staff and residents across all of Belong Wigan, sharing expertise and taking time to help anybody that feels like there's something stopping them from getting the best outcomes for the people living here.
"In the mornings I'll first check my emails to see if any of the households have contacted me to ask for additional support. Recently I helped with a lady that had been becoming distressed at certain mealtimes. By spending some extra time with her, I found that she was happiest when she was looking through old photographs and talking about them. Collaborating with other staff, we identified the signs that showed when her mood was beginning to change, and by doing that that staff now know to take her to her room and get her comfortable, surrounded by her own photos and things, at certain times of day. By doing this and taking a holistic approach we were able to improve her quality of life without the need for any additional medication, which might have been used as an answer in more traditional care homes.
I run a new starters course now as well, about best practice in dementia care, which gives me a great chance to connect with new staff and helps them to know that they can come to me if they need anything.
"Two of the people that I work closely with are Caroline Clifton, the Admiral Nurse, and Marie Calderbank, our Experience Coordinator. Last week I went with Marie to a local primary school, where we ran a Dementia Friends Champion session for a class of Year Five students. That was a wonderful experience. The children were very receptive and you could tell from their comments that they took what we'd said on board and wanted to go and share that knowledge at home.
Making positive change
"The things I do from day to day can be very varied, but the most important thing is to follow a holistic approach in looking at how to make life easier and more comfortable for people living with dementia. Sometimes that will mean ensuring that an action plan is being followed, sometimes working externally with groups like the Care Home Liaison Team, but more often than not it means offering support throughout in the village. Whatever the job role, from housekeeping staff to direct carers, I want everyone to feel empowered to make positive change in the lives of the people living in Belong Wigan.
"My work is such a big part of my life that it takes up most of my time, but when I get home I love going on long walks with my Cavalier King Charles dog. I also enjoy spending time with my nephews. The main thing is knowing that I'm making a difference to people's lives, that's so rewarding and well worth all the hard work."