Feature: Collier Row carer, Sarah Stanley, says her life is so fulfilling
PUBLISHED: 19:00 14 March 2013 | UPDATED: 09:19 15 March 2013
Last April, Sarah Stanley was earning a five-figure sum as an investment banker but she felt something was missing from her life.
Now, almost a year on, the 37-year-old mother of two says that she has found that sense of fulfilment and purpose.
She swapped her high-flying job for being a carer.
Most importantly, the career change has allowed her to give something back to a woman she has known all her life who she calls “Auntie Janet”, Janet Hobson, 70.
She said: “I never said thank you to Janet when I was growing up for all the things that she did for me but I really feel now that I am returning the favour.”
When Sarah handed in her notice she knew that she wanted to do something helping people, but that was about it.
She said: “I had been doing it for 20 years. The money was good but on a personal level I didn’t feel that I was getting any satisfaction.”
Then the opportunity came up to care for a close family friend with Alzheimer’s.
She said: “My mum asked me if I could help Brian [Janet’s husband] take care of Janet and for me it was something obvious that I could do to help.”
Sarah has known Janet all her life. “Brian and my dad worked together at Romford Brewery,” Sarah explains.
“As a little girl I enjoyed several family holidays and parties with Janet and her husband and three sons.
“Like any other mum would do, Janet looked out for me alongside my own parents. She would take me to the toilet, help me get dressed, get me a snack or a drink if I asked for it and generally ensure I kept myself out of harm’s way.”
Ten years ago Janet was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and Sarah says that she saw the effect it had on Brian and the rest of the family.
“He was really depressed and was on the verge of putting Janet in a home.”
After a few months of looking after Janet, Brian asked if Sarah could do the role on a permanent basis.
Part of Sarah’s time with Janet is spent taking her to Singing for the Brain classes.
Launched by Havering Council and the Alzheimer’s Society, they use singing to stimulate the brain and help people express themselves and socialise.
Sarah said: “Janet usually knows all the words and who the singer is. She gets so much out of it. It’s like for one hour a week there is no dementia.”
Sarah is also studying for a degree in social care.
She said: “Things have worked out really well, I have changed Brian’s life because he is able to go out and get a little bit of his life back and I am able to devote my time to Janet.”
In October, Sarah will take part in a trek along the Great Wall of China for the Alzheimer’s Society.
To donate visit www.justgiving.com/sarah-stanley2