Perth man named as University of the Highlands and Islands’ Alumnus of the Year
The manager of a home care service who studied his degree through Perth College UHI has been named as the 2014 University of the Highlands and Islands’ Alumnus of the Year. The annual award is given to a former student for services to the community, achievements in arts or sciences, business or in public or academic life.
Andrew Jackson, 35 from Tulloch, Perth, graduated with BA in health studies in 2013. Although he was already employed as a care assistant when he embarked on the degree, he wanted to gain the qualification so he could manage his own facility. With a desire to make a difference to the care of older people, especially those with dementia, Andrew felt this would be the best way to influence the quality of service.
After graduating, Andrew was offered an opportunity to manage a care home in Gibraltar. Since then, he has set up his own home care service and training agency there. His facility is based on the principle of person-centred care which enables older adults to engage with people of all ages and the natural environment, rather than being segregated. This principle is thought to address some of the main causes of suffering in old age, including boredom, loneliness and helplessness.
Andrew was nominated for the award by his personal academic tutor, Colleen Maclean, who also taught him on several modules. Colleen explained: “Andy joined the health studies degree because he wanted to make a difference in care of older adults. Study wasn't easy for him; he has dyslexia and struggled to manage the workload at times. He also moved from job to job and level to level (sometimes being head-hunted) to develop his knowledge of, and experience in, the sector.
“I nominated Andy because he has held firm to his standards and original goal throughout a challenging degree and is now living and working according to these for the benefit of older people.”
Speaking about his award, Andrew said: “I was in shock to be named as the Alumnus of the Year; to be nominated was enough for me! Colleen has shown such support and I can’t thank her enough. I would also like to thank Tori and Robert Gray who gave me my first opportunity in managing a nursing home. They saw the advantages of employing someone who was studying and always offered support for my learning. Southern Health Care Ltd also provided opportunities which greatly enhanced my learning, introducing me to the Eden Alternative, an organisation which changed my life and those of the people who live in their homes.
“Together, here in Gibraltar and the UK, we are on a journey to provide individuals living in a care home or receiving care in their own home with a life worth living. With small changes each day we can achieve this. A lot of these changes have to come from us, the health care professionals. We have to change our values and the way we see the world, starting with having “unconditional positive regard” for everyone we work with and care for.
“I believe my time with the university was the starting point for changing my outlook. Hopefully many others will follow until, one day, every person receiving care will have a friend who truly cares and allows them to grow as a person.
The University of the Highlands and Islands changed my life and offered me a world of opportunity. I hope many more people follow their passion and embark on a life-changing course. I’m very proud to receive the award and would like to thank everyone at the university as well as my wife, Maria, for the support.”
“Andrew is an exemplary candidate for this prestigious award,” said Professor Clive Mulholland, the university’s principal and vice-chancellor. “He has focused his entrepreneurial flair in an area which he cares passionately about and is really making a difference to the lives of those he cares for. I am delighted our online BA health studies course, which allows students to continue to balance a profession and personal life while studying, was the ideal opportunity for him.”