Heart and Advocacy

Nicky West
Heart and Advocacy

Being Present

It's been a while since I've posted here, time has morphed and I've adapted and morphed with it!  I imagine for many of us it's been a case of finding our edges, capacity and (hopefully) supportive resources.  I'm just back from a trip home to the UK, ahhh loved the long light days!  It's been 7 years, way too long and this trip was about connection with family and advocating for and with my parents as they navigate this next stage in life. 

My mum has been in and out of hospital throughout Covid, somehow managing to avoid it up to this point. She's been getting much worse for a couple of years now, it's progressive and I was grateful to get back finally and see her and my dad.  My heart filled up from seeing the few close family and friend's I could.  There was an empty space asking to be filled and this is really what life is about.   

We were navigating the hospital and nursing home / care system along with social services, and even though we have my sister in law who work in the industry, it was still challenging.   Hmmm even calling it an industry doesn't give justice to the immense skill, presence and experience required to be a good support / care worker.  Communication was everything, not giving up at the 1st, 2nd or 3rd 'No' we can't take her and listening, understanding the system and what's required, understanding my mum's needs and wishes and advocating for dignity and person centred care. 

Speaking your mind with Dementia

My mum can be the gentlest, kindest, zaniest person AND she also speaks her mind, so with Frontotemporal Dementia the best nurse can feel challenged, and she had some wonderful nurses, under immense strain.  The other patients in her ward loved her for it, all women, mainly over 70, who often had no family or clue what was going to happen next for them.  There was a beautiful Irish lady (I'll leave out her name) she was 87 and within a day my mum and her were like long lost friends.  One day, I went into the hospital to visit and asked my mum how she was doing that day.  She said "I'm not good, I'm a horrible person, she didn't deserve it, I'm not nice" I asked her what happened?  She told me her friend, the Irish lady, was talking with myself and my dad and she was jealous and told her not to talk with her visitors.  Mum had wanted us to herself and her usual generosity of spirit had left her in that moment. 

This was a shame as the Irish woman was lovely and they obviously got on.  I'd brought in some angel cake that day, which mum loved.  Now my mum had become quite possessive over her food with this condition, but, I asked her if she'd like to offer the lady a piece of angel cake to say sorry.  She said 'yes' without pausing so I asked if she wanted to do this herself or me, she wanted me to go and as their beds were close to each other there was an opportunity for acknowledgment between them. 

I approached Mum's new found friend, who was talking aloud.  I didn't realise but she was mid-prayer, apologising for disturbing her I offered this gentle, nervous woman a piece of angel cake, explaining that mum wanted to give her this to say sorry.  Her eye's warmed and she said "she understand and it's ok and she loved my mum".  They did a little 'cheers' with the cake and made peace, at least for that day!

Our voices are needed

With all that continues to happen in the world our voices are needed, whether it's advocating for family and community or speaking out to change policy, change your work culture or support leaders whose values align with more empathy, compassion and humanity.  Or it might be to speak what's true in relationships and find a way to communicate this with the least harm. 

We all play a part within our capacity to create the world we live in, moment by moment everyday through our interactions, reactions and decisions. It begins with listening and finding your own voice so I hope you're able to find some time for connection and peace, to be fully present with however you're feeling.  Slowing down and being present feels like it creates more time.  I didn't think I'd be saying this to my (almost) 80 year old dad, who still races around with a stick whilst needing a hip operation. He was definitely more chilled out by the time I left, and that makes me happy. 

If you're looking to improve your skills and confidence in using your voice, whether that's for advocacy, relationships or on video then Enrolment is now open for a 6-week journey from August 10th into Embodying Your Voice.  This is a group program run live with supporting materials and practices.  You can find out more and book HERE or contact me back with any questions.  I'm excited to be running this again!  


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