18 Nov 2022

Age and Ageing Clinical Academic Group announces inaugural Consumer Council

The Age and Ageing Clinical Academic Group has announced the formation of their inaugural Consumer Council.

The Consumer Council brings together members of the community to provide healthcare consumer views, opinions, and experiences to the AAA CAG members. The aim is for all members to work together to help guide research projects and to inform the community about recent research findings. After advertising for Expressions of Interest across our various networks, eight experienced and passionate individuals were invited to join the Consumer Council.

The AAA CAG Consumer Council:

Imelda Gilmore

 Imelda is an experienced Dementia Advocate, a voluntary role she has fulfilled since 2012 while caring for her husband during his journey with young onset Alzheimer’s disease, which culminated in his death aged 68 in 2016. Over the past ten years, she has been a vocal advocate for those living with dementia and their carers in all forms of media, including television, radio, speaking at conferences, forums, seminars and workshops, printed articles, and research journals amongst others.

She is particularly passionate about the need to provide the very best in palliative care and end-of-life care for those living with dementia. In this context she has been involved with researchers across several universities in Australia and overseas and continues to make a significant contribution to consumer advisory groups in the research arena.

Imelda loves her work as a pastoral care volunteer in a nursing home, bringing comfort in meeting the spiritual needs of residents who are in the late or last stages of their dementia journey. Imelda also fulfils this role remotely, offering telephone support for a number of women living alone in remote locations.

Ajay Varshney

 With medical children in the family, Ajay has been strongly encouraged to share his experiences by getting involved in various committees. He was involved in consultation committees for the construction of the new Westmead building along with several committees in Westmead WSLHD. He was also on the District Quality committee whilst also sitting on The Prince of Wales Hospital redevelopment committee and other committees.

Trish McBride

 A New Zealander by birth, Trish has lived in Australia for 26 years, and currently lives on the NSW South Coast. She trained as a nurse, an area in which she worked for many years. She then worked in the corporate world in Health and Safety management. Trish has a keen interest in Age and Ageing both as a professional and as someone who may need to access the system herself day. She looks forward to working with the group.

Brian Dalton

 Brian brings a diverse and complementary set of skills and competencies built up over more than 30 years fostering the Consumer in the Health, For Purpose (Social/Community Services) and For Profit Sectors. He has ‘lived experience’ of the aged and health care systems, as well as experience as a Consumer Representative member of advisory committees in Public/Private health care settings, tertiary institutes and with NSW Health. Brian is part of the baby boomer cohort and is passionate about championing the consumer voice to foster a cultural shift that elevates consumer involvement from basic consultation to consumer-leadership (empowerment), opening the way for more collaborative practice, co-design and integration into decision making that results in better aged care options/outcomes.

Eesa Witt

 Eesa migrated from Malaysia to undertake Nursing training which was hospital-based back then. She completed a Grad Dip in Aged Care, and Master in Clinical Practice and served as a Director of Alzheimer’s NSW for nine years. Though retired, Eesa utilises her expertise and experience in Aged Care Nursing to enable seniors to live, eat, play {exercise} and be connected to community to enjoy the best quality of life. She is an active member of the Council on the Ageing (COTA) NSW with voluntary public speaking experience to community senior groups.

Andres Ramirez

 Andres Ramirez is a strategic leader with proven Australian and international experience in the fields of Governance and Risk Management and Education and Training. Holding Master's degrees in Education and Governance and Risk Management, Andres is a highly adaptable professional with solid public, private and non-for-profit sectors experience, currently working for the NSW State Government.  Fluent in Spanish and English, Andres builds effective and long-lasting relations with key stakeholders and leads multicultural, high-performing and inclusive teams. He is known for delivering high-quality, customer-focused outcomes while promoting organisational values, brand and philosophy.

Karen Martin

Karen joins the Council with a wealth of lived experience – as a carer to her son and parents, as a patient navigating multiple hospitals and health services, and as a worker in the aged and disability sector for over 20 years. This experience led her to return to study as a mature aged student, gaining a Bachelor of Social Science (Psych), Graduate Diploma in Gerontology and Diploma of Dementia Care. She is currently studying towards a Masters in Gerontology and will commence a Graduate Certificate of Palliative Care in 2023. Karen is a strong advocate for productive partnerships with health professionals, and for enabling others to build their capacity to engage meaningfully in their health and end of life care.

Sonia Markoff

Sonia comes to the AAA CAG Consumer Council having lived experience with supporting and caring for her ageing parents as well as other family members who are living with chronic health conditions. This has seen her deal regularly with the health system as a carer. She also has experience as a patient who manages her own health issues.

Sonia has been working and volunteering in the community services and health industry, particularly in disability, mental health and ageing, for the last 28 years. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in psychology and sociology and is currently undertaking postgraduate studies in Mental Health and Autism. 

Sonia is currently a Facilitator or Co-Facilitator for a diverse range of mental health peer support groups as well as other various support groups, both face-to-face or online. She is also a Consumer Representative for St George and Sutherland Community Mental Health Service Advisor Committee and a Consumer Representative for Sutherland Hospital Consumer Advisory Committees for several years.

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