Degenerative diseases are one of the most arduous illnesses that a person could ever have. Watching a loved one deteriorate right before your eyes is something that is extremely heartbreaking to witness, because you know that there is nothing you can do to stop it from progressing. Doron Salomon, an employee of Sainsbury, knows this all too well, as his mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Syndrome in her 50s.
Before her diagnosis, Mrs. Salomon was an organized woman who was skilled with numbers, having worked as a bookkeeper her entire life. But when the symptoms of her disease started to show, she had no choice but to quit her desired profession.
In 2012, she applied at Sainsbury’s – the second largest supermarket chain in the United Kingdom – and was accepted as one of the store’s “pickers”. She was tasked with pulling items that customers ordered online from the grocery shelves.
She spent the next decade working at the store in the Kenton neighborhood of London, England, loving every minute of the job that gives her joy and purpose. Mrs. Salomon was able to fulfill this role with minimal supervision for years.
However, things started to go south during her sixties. Mrs. Salomon “forgot” how to do her job and needed constant help from fellow employees. Doron and his father worked with Sainsbury’s management and kept them constantly updated regarding his mother’s medical situation. The two men who loved her so feared the day that they would be called in to hear the news that Mrs. Salomon needed to be let go because she could no longer do her job well.
In a Twitter post, Doron shared the effects that Alzheimer’s has on its sufferers:
“Alzheimer’s, for those that aren’t aware, is more than just memory loss. To name a few things it impacts: social skills, mood, increases disorientation, exaggerates emotions, can make you aggressive, increases tiredness, loss of language, inability to make decisions etc etc.”
Doron further explained that instead of letting her mother go, the grocer acted towards her with compassion and respect throughout the years. Every time she forgot how to be a “picker”, they would retrain her. They also taught their staff how to assist Mrs. Salomon in times of forgetfulness. They changed her hours sometimes, too. To further understand how the store could accommodate her, they also held regular meetings with her family so they can discuss the situation.
“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’d never been there before. They have always stood by her, going above and beyond to make sure she’s happy and feeling valued.”, Doron said.
When her condition got worse and she was no longer able to fulfill her “picker” duties, Sainsbury’s even created a new role for her as a tote box cleaner.
“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,” Doron said.
Every time they were called in for a meeting, Doron and his dad always feared the worst. But the store never let them down.
Despite all their efforts, the effects of the disease could not be slowed down – it was something out of their control. Six months after starting her job as a tote box cleaner, Mrs. Salomon had to be let go because she could no longer fulfill even the simplest assignment. It was finally time for her to leave her long-time job, and the management made sure that her transition was as smooth and dignified as possible.
Though he rarely writes posts on social media, Doron felt the need to thank the Sainsbury management and staff for all that they have done for his mother.
Thank you, Sainsbury and staff, for taking care of Mrs. Salomon during her long-time employment, and for making her feel loved and valued throughout her battle with this horrible disease. Sainsbury is the perfect example of an employer who treats their workers with compassion, and we hope that more corporations will follow their lead.
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