Islington born and bred, Debbie McLean has managed Highbury New Park Day Centre since 2001. She tells us what she finds most rewarding about her work.
I started off as a residential care officer for Islington Council in 1991 and joined Care UK as a team leader in 2004. I worked in our Muriel Street and Lennox House care homes and now manage both Highbury New Park Day Centre and Carnegie Street day club.
I love Islington – I've travelled around the world, but I always come back to Islington because it's a wonderful place to live and work. The day club gets great support from the local community – I find that people are generally very caring and have a good awareness of dementia.
A big part of my approach to caring for older people is to look beyond the dementia for the person that's really there. I think about how I'd like to be treated if I were in their shoes – I want them to feel good about themselves and valid as an individual. It's about being human and making others feel wanted and also equal. And I'm always extremely positive, because that energy feeds down to my team and to day club members.
I find my job incredibly rewarding. Every evening I get to go home knowing that I’ve made a difference to the lives of the older people who came to the day club that day. On the way home I’ll often think about special moments during the day, like sharing a laugh with someone or getting some positive feedback from a family member.