It took five years for me to complete my Bachelor of Dementia Care as I was working full time and looking after my husband and two teenagers at the time. It was personally important as well, as I wanted to demonstrate to my children that there is no barrier or excuses to be who you want to be when you put your mind, time, hard work and passion into it.
I was a high school teacher overseas so when I come to Australia some 25 years ago, I needed to look for another career as there was no need for a Macedonian language teacher.
I’ve finished my Certificate IV in Community Services and in 2012 graduated with my Diploma of Counselling. At that time I worked as a Dementia Carers Support and Counselling Coordinator with CatholicCare. I was considering a Graduate Diploma or Bachelor in Counselling when a network email about what was then Associate Degree in Dementia Care with UTAS came through. I felt my counselling skills were fine but I could improve my knowledge on dementia.
Studying was overwhelming at times, hard to do it from your own room as opposed to a classroom, however UTAS has provided me with support, and the reassurance that I am doing well. All the teachers, admin staff and other students were supportive and helpful. I would email teachers with specific questions and get a reply the same day or the next day. And there was always another student being out there with the same enquiry or available to chat. I graduated at the end of 2017.
During the years of my study I was very fortunate to have a very supportive workplace and a job where I could pass on my newly gained knowledge immediately. My role at the time was to provide information, support and counselling to carers of people with dementia either through individual or group support and I was able to relate all learnings to carers. My knowledge has helped me to provide insight to carers on what the person living with dementia could be experiencing and how would those experiences affect their day to day functioning, mood and behaviour. After completing each subject, I would have information sessions organised for carers to pass on the latest information such as modifiable risk factors, or person-centred dementia care, importance of advanced care planning, dementia friendly communities – all very important and relevant topics.
At the end of 2017, soon after completion of all subjects, an opportunity to be part of the first Australian trial on the Meeting Centre Support Program presented itself and I could not resist the temptation to be part of it. Read more about the Meeting Centre Support Program.
So when I say “life changing” – you can see why and how the Bachelor of Dementia Care has added to my career path but more to my passion of promoting the dignity and quality of life of people living with dementia and their families.