Allow me to introduce myself, my name is Karen (known as Kaz) Broad and I am the new Regional Manager for Age Space Dorset.
What to do when you’re asked to write an introduction about yourself? As quite a private person with a modest opinion of myself, I threw it out there and asked my friends to describe me in one word!
With some interesting ripostes and ignoring the obvious comical replies of an unpublishable nature, it appears that I am perceived as calm, and intuitive, trustworthy and extrovert, gregarious and annoyingly cheerful with a large dollop of tenacity.
Someone did say: “Happy” which pretty- well sums me up! My children just said: “Monica’, after the rather obsessed-with-cleaning character out of Friends and I would go along with that!
I’m a “glass half-full” person
Building on my own life’s experiences, some good, some difficult, I was more than happy to see that positivity appeared as one of my strengths. Things happen in life and I do my best to turn things round to the positive and dismiss self-pessimism with a degree of irritability. I am definitely a “glass half full” girl.
Initially I trained as a chef. As my parents were both in the hospitality industry, it seemed the best direction to go. Enjoying the contact with people I spent some time managing front of house in my parent’s hotel. I was fortunate to be able to own my own restaurant for eight years; an amazing experience. After selling my restaurant I bought a property in France. I went into the education sector and focused on being a Specialist Behaviour Support Teaching Assistant. This was both rewarding and challenging. I then began working for Social Services as a Social Work Assistant in the Fostering and Adoption team, I delivered training to potential foster parents as well as supporting them through to placement.
In my spare time I became an Adult Community Education Tutor and delivered cookery classes to the elderly, teaching them the importance of a good nutritional diet. These classes were both fun and edifying, many in my class were recent widowers who had never had to cook for themselves before. They learnt new skills, but also gained huge confidence and found new friends.
I then progressed to working in Adult Social Care, working for Headway Dorset and the Dorset Blind Association. I was then fortunate to get a position at Social Services Local office as a Community Care Officer. Overseeing Reablement and Hospital Discharges, I attended weekly Discharge Team meetings and virtual ward rounds with local GP practices. I managed a case load of approximately 50, attended safeguarding tribunals and monitored Care Home Reviews.
An enlightening position
This was an enlightening position where I gained huge insight into people’s resilience and strengths during adversity and trauma. Dealing with distressed and anxious relatives was a significant part of my role along with finding the right level of care for their relatives. The guilt some relatives would feel as the realisation that their loved one’s care was beyond their capabilities would be evident, keeping the lines of communication with all concerned was crucial. Along with a multi-disciplinary team of skilled professionals, the right decisions were made to ensure a safe delivery of service.
I worked for First Point and the You Trust delivering a Care Navigating Service in West Dorset. There is a multitude of excellent support services out there, if you know where to look. the same thing applies to information, entitlements, policies and procedures. It can be mind-blowing, asking for help isn’t a failing; it’s vital.
Learn to laugh at adversity
I am a mother, a stepmother and a grandmother. I have two wonderful children in their 40s, two amazing grandchildren both now in their mid-teens, and I have two lovely stepchildren. Meg and Poppy are our two completely adorable Springer Spaniels which are the most laid- back Springers I have ever known, verging on the horizontal! My husband suffered meningitis in his thirties and as a result suffered a brain injury. A strong man both physically and mentally, he recovered in spite of a worrying prognosis. We have battled his own cogitative impairment and mobility issues to others discrimination, leading us to highlight the plight of the “hidden disability.” Fully recovered, we have learnt to laugh at adversity.
My parents are both in their 90s and have had their fair share of health issues. My Mother had a stroke 25 years ago which paralysed her right arm. As a gifted seamstress, this was overwhelming. With the support of the family, we encouraged her to learn new skills. It’s amazing how the body adapts and although she learnt to cope with her disability, her journey was long and at times grim. My parents-in-law in their late 80s live a great distance away which presented different, but equally challenging issues when ill health struck recently. My husband and I both experienced guilt at not being able to help every day. An eight hour round trip was not always easy with work commitments. We had to trust in the amazing support services out there.
Age Space is an excellent resource
I hope that I can give Age Space some of my positivity, as well as my wealth of experience and knowledge in the hope that this will benefit others. As a “new girl” I am learning as I go along. Age Space is an excellent, valuable and dynamic resource as a decision-making tool. Its information platform is, without question, a vital service. As a consummate professional with a determination to empower others, I am looking forward to a happy future with Age Space.