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My never ending vocation

I believe it was Ralph Waldo Emerson who said “Life is a journey not a destination”; ever since I graduated with my degree in dementia care from UTAS in 2015 I have never looked back only forward. The 3 years spent on-line learning started my journey that continues to grow every day. Not only did I enter into the field of dementia but I moved from Sothern Tasmania to New South Wales in search of new adventures and found my dream destination.

I started working in a dementia specific facility using the skills I had learnt to create art/music and dance therapies amongst the residents living with dementia. I also had the opportunity to become the Kiama Dementia Friendly Project Officer with Kiama Municipal Council in July 2017.

This has given the chance to make a real difference in the lives of the people living with various forms of dementia in the community and able to pay forward in helping improve the quality of the lives of those I come into contact with.

Michael Preston with Gail, BDC student.

More recently I have had the honour of being selected to serve on the Blue Haven consultative committee. The role of the group is to oversee and make decisions in the transition to a new nursing home being built in the town. I was invited by the committee to provide a presentation highlighting the benefits of the UTAS dementia program, which was very well received and is now being considered to be part of future education training program for specialised dementia care staff.

About a year ago I was contacted by a friend of a friend regarding a student who had just commenced the Bachelor degree in Dementia course with UTAS and wanted to talk to someone who had already graduated. I agreed to meet the woman for coffee, we instantly became friends and I became her coach/mentor. Coincidently she has also become a member of the Kiama Dementia Friendly Alliance group representing her company. I constantly ensure she is meeting deadlines and provide encouragement when required, talking over issues or problems that she may incur.

It had occurred to me that there could possibly be many people studying and in the same position as my protégé, who would benefit if consenting to be part of a data-base of postal codes so that they could be matched up with like-minded students; to provide support and comradeship. Possibly meeting for coffee and talking over shared experiences and issues that could be resolved as the old saying goes “a problem shared is a problem solved”.

My journey of passion about the subject of dementia care is ongoing and has many new pathways ahead of me. I consider myself to be extremely lucky in the opportunities I have been given, which would never come to fruition if I had not studied and graduated with my degree, I shall forever be grateful for that opportunity. Knowledge certainly is empowering along with the building and generating of skills on a daily basis I have been able to put into real practice. We never stop learning and evolving into making the world a better place through education and knowledge. I shall continue to be an advocate and champion the importance of learning and how it can influence the future. The more people who decide to make a difference by learning through study especially the MOOC and the graduate program, the more we move towards changing the way we care for people living with dementia, and make that four lettered word CARE really mean something.

Michael Preston
BDC Graduate