Retiring Alzheimer’s Australia WA chief executive, Frank Schaper, says “the cup is half full, not half empty” for those living with dementia.
It is just one of many things the 71-year-old has learnt in his 15 years with the organisation.
“I have not been in a position which has given me more personal satisfaction and more drive than this job. I’ve never been in a position for longer than six years, and to have been around for this long speaks great volumes on just how rewarding this role has been,” Mr Schaper tells DPS News.
During his time, Mr Schaper, who will retire from his role in September, led the transformation of the organisation from a service provider to an organisation that has positioned itself as a service model developer, researcher and capacity builder in the health and aged care industry.
Mr Schaper is pictured with Alzheimer's Australia president, Ita Buttrose.
Under his leadership, Alzheimer’s Australia WA has established a number of strong local and international partnerships and embarked on a bold capital works program to help shape the future of dementia care in WA for generations to come.
As a global leader in dementia care, he has also formed close alliances with other Alzheimer’s support organisations in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
But according to Mr Schaper, the time has come for him to “step aside and allow somebody else to take the reins”.
He describes some of the highlights of being part of Alzheimer’s Australia WA as seeing an “enormous” growth in dementia awareness and contributing to the Economic Report of 2003, which he believes “shifted government thinking around dementia and its impact”.
“I’ve also seen government budgets for dementia care grow from just more than $1 million to a budget of now $10 million.
“I think dementia care should be mainstream in the same way aged care is mainstream, where many organisations see it necessary to provide proper care.”
Although he has tackled the issue of memory loss in Australians, Mr Schaper confesses he will hold many memories of his time and work with Alzheimer’s Australia WA.
“Many people with dementia have extraordinary insights into the disease process and we can learn much from them, and for me, watching how so many have made significant contributions to the community is something I will always remember. The journey is never really finished,” he says.