Mike Baird focuses on supporting the 'receiving hands' of aged care

Supporting the 'receiving hands' of aged care was a key privilege of joining HammondCare, according to new CEO Mike Baird who spoke to the International Dementia Conference with up to 6000 online participants on World Alzheimer's Day, September 21.

mike sean deb 580This was Mr Baird's first public address since becoming CEO on September 1 and he reflected on the personal challenge of recently 'handing over' his mother to aged care providers.

"This is an incredibly important time for the aged care sector, not just here [Australia], but across the world," Mr Baird said.

"I have a mum with multisystem dystrophy, and it has been a very difficult few years. And it was through my mum that I engaged with the aged care sector.

"We had to hand her across to other people, with their care and expertise. And so to join an organisation and a sector that on a daily basis goes through such moments, to be receiving hands, then to do everything we can do to help those hands, well, that’s what this conference is about."

Mr Baird said that as a former Premier of NSW, he had incredible opportunities to meet many remarkable people, such as Prince Harry, but it was often the lesser known people such as a young indigenous man, Quinny, or now with HammondCare, resident Sean Kelly, that had the greatest impact on him.

He met Sean, who lives with frontotemporal dementia (FTD), at HammondCare Horsley, and learnt about a book Sean has published about his experience. FTD is the most common form of dementia in people aged under 50 and in Sean's case he was diagnosed when 44 - there was a hereditary cause and there is no cure.

"To get to know him, your heart cannot but be moved... what affected me in his book, and our discussions, was his very simple words, that are very pertinent as we go through these two days of the conference, he said 'we need to remember that we need to be cared about, not just cared for'.

"I think that's the call, reminding ourselves that we need to do everything we can to care about, and not just care for, those who are living with dementia... everyone will have a story, and for us, it's those stories, it's those people, that are what the the next two days are all about."

Mr Baird said he also looked forward to hearing from Minister for Aged Care, Senator Richard Colbeck, and Shadow Minister for Ageing, Julie Collins during the conference.

The conference continues throughout today and tomorrow and registrations are still open for live streaming and for 30 days on demand content.

 * Sean Kelly's book, Sean's Story, with his five tips for living well with FTD and maintaining quality of life, is available from the Dementia Centre as a free download.