MND NSW board member Anita Richter writes: My commitment to the MND community began in 1997. Through my work as a speech pathologist in both rehabilitation and palliative care settings I treated several people living with MND. I became concerned about the lack of real support services available as they and their loved ones strove to manage the challenges of this disease.
With a desire to make a difference I took the new position of Care Development Officer for MND NSW with the initial task of conducting a ‘Needs Assessment’ for People with MND.
This survey helped to guide subsequent goals: – to initiate a Family Support Service for MND NSW (including establishment of the first Regional Advisors), to develop support and information resources for people living with MND and their family/carers.
It was crucial to link people with MND to health professionals within their health area, to promote the concept of multidisciplinary MND care teams and to provide reliable information and educational workshops for health care professionals.
I was amazed and encouraged by the extent of the goodwill and commitment of allied health and nursing staff. Often all that was needed was empowerment by reliable information on managing MND and the catalyst for them to seize the moment and grow the level of care within their health area.
For the next 13 years I had the privilege of working in number different roles in MND NSW and thereby meeting many inspirational people within the MND community.
Although we still await the ultimate goal – a cure – it is wonderful to witness how much research and care services have developed since 1997.
Following retirement I have continued my connection by working in a small capacity as a volunteer for both MND NSW and MND Australia.
Once touched by MND and the many inspirational people striving to meet its challenges – one “never wants to give up”!