Maggie Osman has been a support worker at Mill Street club since the beginning - at at Polebarn House before that. As the club celebrates its 10th anniversary she reflects on how she came to be involved and what the club has meant to her.

Tell us something about your early life and career

I was born in London but my family were from this area – my grandparents ran the village pub at Wellow.  My parents returned to Wiltshire when I was still quite young and I went to school in Trowbridge and then Westbury when we moved there.

My mother was an office worker but I could never see myself sitting at a computer every day. I wanted something more practical. I used to make fire alarms, doing the electrical wiring and components for the MoD. Then I worked in a care home. It was 8am to 8pm and I used to leave absolutely shattered, but I knew, for all those residents, they were comfortable and content, so it was worthwhile.

Why did you first get involved in Alzheimer's Support

The care home closed and I wanted another job in care. I started over 10 years ago at Polebarn House, the club we had before Mill Street. It was so small – when we moved to Mill Street I thought, what on earth are we going to do with all this space – I called it a ‘great big white box’!

But we soon got on with it and now I can’t imagine the club anywhere else. the space works so well. During Covid I kept an eye on the club and came in to check on the place and make the phone calls. It was a strange time and it’s good to be back to how we were again. 

What do you enjoy most about your role

Getting to know the members and their families too. The club is different from the care home as we get to know more about the members from their own family carers and can see the whole person more and really get to know them. 

We know that what we see is the best of people, and it can be much harder for the carers at home. So the club is like a family in one way, but also not. We have that professional distance. At the end of the day we can go home and the carers are still there with the person and can’t just have a break. We are there for the carers as much as for the person who comes to the club.  

Any standout moments or memories?

I’ll always remember the lady who used to ride a motorbike back in the early 1930s. We talked to her about it and it had meant a lot to her. Then we managed to find a bike like the one she used to ride and brought it into the club for her to sit on again. It was a good moment!

I used to keep rescue rabbits and brought two of them into the club, Rufus and Lily. The members loved stroking them, they were so calm with them. 

We filled the ‘big white box’ up with so much colour and stuff – memorabilia of all sorts. It is welcoming for the members and provokes thoughts and memories. We had a new club member visit last week and when it was time to go he was quite emotional. Just seeing the place made him feel involved, that there was somewhere he could go and feel he would fit in. Being a part of that is very rewarding.

What advice would you give a new member of staff?

Have compassion and empathy, but don’t give your heart away too much. Everyone is different and you will have the people you take to more than others but we’re still one big family and you can’t choose your family. Have fun along the way.

 

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