Sebastien Fages Interview
My name is Sebastien Fages and I live in France with my wife and children. I work through an Agency as a Carer in various Care Homes for the elderly, covering when staff cannot work due to sickness or holidays.
Q How did you come to be working in the field of dementia care?
A My Grandmother died when I was 20 and she had Alzheimer’s dementia. I had been a sales rep in real estate and construction for 15 years, but I didn’t feel fulfilled in my job. My mother always told me that her mother died with Alzheimer and told me the different stages she saw. One day I decided to stop working in sales and decided to try to work in a Care Home for the Elderly. I started on the 16th August 2012 and have never stopped. In this home there are three floors. Two are for normal elderly care and one is an Alzheimer’s unit. At first I worked in the normal elderly care units, then one day a colleague told me that I was going to work in the Alzheimer’s Unit. The first night was horrible and I swore that I would never work in this unit again. One night I had a break in the Alzheimer’s Unit and my colleague Naomi Feil was practicing Validation. It changed my whole working life and since that night, I decided to help others to understand people with Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia.Q
Q How are you raising awareness of dementia?
A I searched a lot on the internet in France and in French, but found nothing that was helpful enough. So I extended my search and found Gary Joseph LeBlanc who talked to me about his wristband project. Later I found Norm MacNamarra who talked to me about Purple Angels. Since that day I have tried to find time between my work and family to translate all the documents into French.
Q What is the most important reason for raising children’s awareness of dementia?
A For me it is important to raise everyone’s awareness of dementia, young people, teenagers, adults … But regarding the young people, it is important to find good words, expressions, and drawings to help them understanding why someone who has dementia is acting or talking the way they do.
Q What are your preferred resources for raising children’s awareness of dementia?
A You are the first person I found who has written a book.
Q Have you read my book The Forgetful Elephant? Do you plan to incorporate it in your work?
A I am going to read your book and translate it into French, then I would like to help promote your book everywhere possible, not just in schools. I will have to think about how I can incorporate it in the work that I am doing.
Q How would you say we can educate young children about dementia?
A First, by explaining to them why, what, how. Then we should educate them as soon as possible, as soon as they ask questions about grandpa or grandma, when you see on their faces that they don’t understand something. We also have to educate people who are working with children: teachers, paediatricians, and so on.
Q If you had a magic wand (and unlimited funds), how would you raise awareness of dementia in the community?
A By giving free training to all the French people all over France.
Q What sources of information and research about dementia do you follow?
A I read books in French about Validation (Naomi Feil), and Humanitude (French method), I am translating different documents to use them in the future. I also follow forum and Facebook pages and I sometimes ask questions. Internet is a very huge source when you find the right person and the right website.
Q Which person or organisation do you consider to be a world leader in dementia care?
A As yet, I haven’t been able to find if such a person or organisation exists. I think it would be better first for each country to have something very strong and efficient.
Q How can we work together to raise children’s awareness of dementia?
A I am going to translate your book and will promote it everywhere I can.