Marie Svensson is the first healthcare assistant to win the Queen Silvia Nursing Award in Sweden. This is her first interview with the Queen Silvia Nursing Award, originally published in Swedish on queensilvianursingaward.se
Hello Marie! Tell us a little more about yourself.
I was born and raised in the Swedish countryside, where the most fun I had as a child was building huts in the forest. When my father built a playhouse at home, I instead built several huts with my cousin in the forest. My dreams for the future were never that big, other than getting a job to enjoy and a home in the area where I already lived. Now I live with my husband, Lars, on a small family farm. We have three grown children and one grandchild with another on the way.
What made you choose a career in healthcare? Why were you inspired to become a Silviasyster?
As a child, I knew that I wanted to be a "homemaker." Working with the elderly has always been my "calling." It is exciting, educational, and sometimes challenging. An elderly lady once said to me in a retirement home when I helped her with her morning routine, “How does it feel to have such an important job?”
“What?” I replied.
“Well, you're here to brighten up the last years of my life!”
“Yes, well said and so true!”
We who work close to people can be impactful, and I am proud to be there for them. The idea of studying to become a Silviasyster came about when, at the age of 40, I started thinking about how I could develop in the profession I already had – particularly when I saw the lack of knowledge specifically aimed at dementia care.
You have created your own workplace, a day care facility for people with dementia near animals and nature. Was there a crucial moment that made you want to make this happen?
The eye-opening moment for me was when I was studying to become a Silviasyster. The knowledge gave me confidence and new perspectives on care, as well as the study visits I took on my own initiative during this period. The decisive moment was when the family farm was put up for sale and both my husband and I saw the opportunity to realize the ideas that had existed for some time. My husband Lars said: "Here you have the premises needed for a day care facility.”
Do you have any thoughts on how your business could be further developed or what it might inspire?
I think that others who are hesitating or thinking about change in healthcare can be inspired by my example and think that it can actually go all the way. As a healthcare assistant, I should be proud of the ideas I have and not be discouraged by not succeeding at the first attempt. I am a prime example of how it can be done after long persistence and repeated reminders that my idea is good.
I see my activity as constantly evolving, depending on the participants/relatives and staff that are in place.
Marie, you are the first healthcare assistant to win the Queen Silvia Nursing Award in Sweden! What are your expectations for your year as a winner?
To meet and see other organizations, to get new input. I would also like to spread my idea that has become a reality both to my own profession and to decision-makers. Perhaps by coming out and telling them about my journey, from creating the idea to eventually operating a day facility and what we experience there. I really want to inspire and share the professional pride I feel in this work.
It would also be good to get tips on how to find a way to better document what we as workers actually see and experience in our everyday lives.
The Silviasyster program is inspired by the work done at www.silviahemmet.se
To learn more about the Silviasyster education, visit this link.