Meet Dara de Burca, who is Alzheimer’s Society’s Director of Operations.
Why dementia, why the Society?
Over a number of years, I’ve watched my mum’s dementia develop. I saw first-hand how difficult it was for her to get her diagnosis. I also saw that with knowledge came understanding and acceptance, and how small changes have made a big difference to Mum’s day-to-day life.
Alzheimer’s Society puts people like my mother at the heart of everything we do, empowering people with dementia not just to shape, but to lead the change we all want to create in our world.
How to fill an unexpected day off?
I spend so much of my life surrounded by people and in a ‘doing’ mode. I might go for a nice walk along the Thames or, even better, drive to a beach.
I was brought up minutes from the sea, and I am a great believer in the healing powers of water. Weather permitting, I would spend the time just sitting and being – allowing my thoughts to drift with the water and land as they wish.
I then might take in a cheeky afternoon film and meet up with my partner and children for pizza in the evening. This sounds like bliss!
Without a shadow of a doubt, it has to be adopting my two amazing children. Adoption is complicated, for those who are adopted and for adoptive parents, but it has been the greatest learning journey of my life.
I am also proud of the kind of daughter, sister, aunt and friend that I am.
I’m definitely not perfect, but I value these relationships and am willing to put in the emotional energy that it takes to form deep connections.
Biggest priority for coming months?
Leading my team to a place where we can seize opportunities from the greater integration of health and social care. We want to shape the most supportive local pathways for people affected by dementia, and design service models that increase accessibility and deliver great support.
More personally, Mum is moving to the next stage on her dementia journey, and we are focused on finding her a wonderful place to live, where she can feel safe, loved and cared for.
Similarly, my adult son with autism and learning disability is transitioning from living in a residential college into assisted living. To be honest, this is all scary stuff!
Most important thing learned from a person with dementia?
I think the jewel learning for me has to be how very small moments are often the most significant and meaningful in life, and the importance of taking the time to listen beyond the words that people use.
Most looking forward to?
I am very excited about our ‘Help and hope’ five-year strategy. With the focus on collaboration and partnership, I believe we can be ‘more than the sum of our parts’.
We are already trusted partners in delivering services at a national and local level.
I am looking forward to develop these relationships even further in co-designing and delivering integrated care to those who need us.