We have been asking our team members to take a moment to answer some questions that will let you see the person behind the job rather than just the professional.
Clare Mason has accepted the challenge and below she briefly introduces herself.
Name: Clare Mason
Born: Bradford (UK)
Job Title: Dementia Care Trainer/Experts by Experience (PPI) Lead
Why did you choose to work in dementia?
I applied to do nursing when I was due to leave school but was told not to bother as I had attended a special school (for children with visual impairment) and the nursing officer said I wouldn’t get in. I went to work in a care home instead and felt I made a real connection with older people and in particular, people with dementia. I’ve worked in dementia care ever since and can’t imagine working in any other area.
Tell us a little about yourself:
Current and past interests, and jobs
I’m 50 this year! I am married to Michael; we have two sons, Jonathan (22) and Thomas (25). All four of us are runners – I’m the slowest! I do parkrun every week and am a member of Hyde Park Harriers. Workwise, I’ve worked in private and council care homes in Bradford as a Care Assistant and later as an Activities Co-ordinator. I ran a day centre for frail elderly people and then moved to the Alzheimer’s Society where I worked for 12 years as a family support worker and Dementia Support Manager. I’m also a volunteer leader for Pathways, a charity for people living with young onset dementia in Bradford.
Places you have lived and visited
I’ve lived in Bradford all my life until moving to Headingley, Leeds two years ago. I’ve visited Austria, Turkey, Spain, Belgium, France, Italy, Amsterdam, New York and Japan.
What two things do you consider yourself to be very good at?
I don’t really think of what I’m good at but think I am good at connecting with people, particularly people with dementia. I feel like I can empathise with some of the things they may be experiencing, particularly through my own experiences with sight loss which also affects lots of people with dementia. I think people with dementia often know I ‘get it.’ I also feel I’m good at including and involving everyone when I’m delivering training – I ask lots of open questions and give examples of real life experiences involving the people I’ve worked with over the years. This helps participants to see it from the person with dementia’s perspective.
What two things do you consider yourself to be less good at?
Staying focused is something I’m less good at, I’m very easily distracted and have to force myself to stick to the task in hand, particularly if it’s a desk based job. I’m also rubbish at saying ‘no’. I like to help people whenever I can and if I think I can do something, I’ll say yes, even if it means staying late to get my own work done.
Are there any accomplishments that you are really proud of?
The main accomplishment I’m very proud of is the way my boys have turned out and I’d like to take some credit for it! They’re polite, charming, sociable, independent people, both far cleverer than I am. They’re both good cooks and they’ve also both got the work ethic which I love. My second main accomplishment is finally completing and passing my BSc in Dementia Studies this year and being awarded the Dr Trevor Jarvis award. I started the course when the boys were small but circumstances meant that although I’d got to the last year I didn’t complete. It’s hung over me like a dark cloud so I was relieved and proud to graduate last December.
A fun fact about yourself
A fun fact about myself is that my youngest son Jonathan was the ‘boy’ in the Lassie film (2005) with Peter O’Toole and Samantha Morton and I once got into bed with Samantha Morton…..(to watch TV!).
Where/How do you see yourself in the next three to five years?
In five years, I hope to have completed my MSc in Advanced Dementia Studies and to have published. I also hope to have grown our Experts by Experience group even further to include people from all backgrounds; I hope that I’ll be working together with people with dementia in all areas of my work.