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Grandmother’s dementia leads to career in care

SPONSORED STORY - Just Better Care Mornington, Victoria (VIC), owner Callum McMillian was inspired to enter a career in community care after his own grandmother was diagnosed with dementia when he was eight years old.

Callum McMillian, owner of Just Better Care Mornington, with his partner, Duane Letson (left). [Source: Just Better Care]
Callum McMillian, owner of Just Better Care Mornington, with his partner, Duane Letson (left). [Source: Just Better Care]

Mr McMillian is passionate about his role in helping people and families that are touched by dementia, with his own first-hand experience giving him a better understanding of his client’s situation.

Mr McMillian remembers how his family felt when trying to access support and information about care for their family member with dementia.

Since Mr McMillian’s grandmother wanted to retain her independence, she denied that she needed help, leaving his family unsure about what to do or who to turn to.

“Living in a regional area meant residential care was really the only way we could ensure she stayed safe and was looked after properly,” says Mr McMillian.

“We didn’t really understand the disease; we just wanted to do the right thing by her.”

Fifteen years later, residential care isn’t the only option for people living with dementia, which affects an estimated 425,416 people across the country.

Organisations such as Dementia Australia now focus their efforts on improving general understanding of the disease to empower people to do small, everyday things to help build dementia-friendly communities.

“Things have really changed since I was young. There is a level of awareness that did not exist back then,” says Mr McMillian.

“If my grandma had access to the type of support available today, she probably could have stayed in her own home for a lot longer.”

Tragically, Mr McMillian’s family is now going through the experience again with his father recently diagnosed with dementia.

This time around Mr McMillian and his family are much better prepared to handle the next steps in his father’s dementia care, not only because of his experiences as a child but also because of his career with Just Better Care.

Five years ago, Mr McMillian opened Just Better Care Mornington to provide support services to older community members in the VIC Bayside area, alongside his partner, Duane Letson.

With a culmination of Mr Letson’s nursing experience and Mr McMillian’s personal dementia journey, the pair have passionately worked with their local community to give the best care possible to their clients.

Mr McMillian says, “It’s the most fulfilling work I’ve ever done and I’m sure Duane would say the same. I really love hearing people’s stories, some are funny, sad, inspirational, but most are just beautiful.

“It’s nice to know we are supporting people’s grandparents and loved ones, often providing the guidance and information my family lacked when grandma had dementia.”

Mr McMillian’s personal and professional experiences have been further motivation in his father’s dementia care as a son and a carer.

“The effects of dementia can be intense, but the right support makes all the difference. I can see that in my dad,” says Mr McMillian.

“He is really active, playing tennis four times a week. At 78 years old, he is fitter than me!”

Just Better Care provides support through personal care, respite, and social and lifestyle support for older Australians and people living with a disability.

To find out more, visit the Just Better Care website.

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