The surprising way Sainsbury’s handled this female employee’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis

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Kayleigh Dray
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Being told that you have Alzheimer’s can be difficult to accept, especially if you’re working – but, as this incredible Twitter thread has proven, a diagnosis doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to give up your job.

Doron Saloman recently took to Twitter to thank Sainsbury’s for all they did to ensure that his mother could continue working in the job she loved, even as her disease progressed.

His mum – whom he has chosen not to name – used to be a bookkeeper at the supermarket, due to her organisational and numerical skills.

However, when she was diagnosed with early onset of the brain disease in 2013, she soon found herself struggling to continue.

“For context, Sainsbury’s have seen my mum deteriorate to the point that every day for the last year or so she has gone into the store confused, as if she’s never been there before.

“They have always stood by her, going above and beyond to make sure she’s happy and feeling valued.”

Saloman went on to explain that Sainsbury’s bosses offered his mother regular retraining, reduced her hours, scheduled regular welfare meetings with both her and her partner, and made colleagues aware of her condition so they were able to help her.

“They even created a role that didn’t exist so that there was something in-store she could do, despite the fact her job title has never changed from ‘picker’,” he added.

“Most recently this has involved giving her the task of cleaning the tote boxes (something staff already did as part of their job).”

Saloman continued: “To my mum, cleaning the tote boxes became the most important job in the world. If she didn’t do it, the store would fall apart.

“The sense of self-worth and pride has undeniably helped with aspects of her Alzheimer’s, such as giving her something to talk about in social situations.”

Acknowledging that “there have been so many times Sainsbury’s could have let her go”, Saloman praised the supermarket for standing by his mother.

“Every time my dad was called in for a meeting, fearing the worst, it was because they had noticed a decline, were concerned about her and wanted to know what more they could do to help,” he said.

Saloman went on to explain that, last October, his mother was informed that her condition had advanced – rendering her, in essence, unemployable.

Sainsbury’s, though, “persevered and stuck by her once again”.

“Yesterday was her last day,” said Saloman. “Even when they probably should have let her go they didn’t until now. My mum was emotional but relieved. Senior management have acted with compassion and handled everything with class and dignity.

“This thread doesn’t really do @sainsburys justice but I wanted to publicly thank them on behalf of my family. They have been a fabulous employer but more than that, on a human level, the people working at the Kenton store have shown sensitivity, kindness and care.

“Thank you.”

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia, affecting an estimated 850,000 people in the UK.

The NHS explains: “Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive condition, which means the symptoms develop gradually and become more severe over the course of several years. It affects multiple brain functions.

“The first sign of Alzheimer’s disease is usually minor memory problems. For example, this could be forgetting about recent conversations or events, and forgetting the names of places and objects.”

Symptoms also include signs of mood changes or periods of confusion. However, as the disease develops, symptoms become more pronounced – and those affected may exhibit obsessive or repetitive behaviours, delusions, disturbed sleep, problems with speech and language, hallucinations and difficulty performing spatial tasks.

However, while this may make work more difficult, Alzheimer’s UK advises that it “may be better for your physical and emotional wellbeing to carry on for as long as you are happy or able to do so.”

You can find out more about the symptoms of Alzheimer’s – or advice on working after a diagnosis – here.

Image: iStock