My Career in Aged Care… So far!

I studied at James Cook University, graduating with a degree in Occupational Therapy. Early in my career I got a job with Everglow, as a Project Officer, implementing their wellness and reablement model. As an OT I also assisted clients with their functional independence, looking at their activities, their daily living, helping them to achieve the best that they could do without depending on others.

I’ve always been passionate about making a difference in the lives of clients, especially being an OT. No client should be dependent on anyone. I want to encourage them, I want to promote their independence. I want to give them quality of life.

I’ve been with Everglow Community Care for over 10 years now and I’ve been with a lot of clients since I’ve started and many are still here with us, so I’ve built that relationship with them. I’ve seen changes, initiatives that the Government is putting in and where it is going, and I’m wanting to continue to implement and make something different in the community and in their lives.

I have a big passion in delivering services for CALD communities. I work with people from different cultures and understanding their needs is very important. I’ve lived with different cultures, different communities, in different countries including Australia. I came to Australia when I was 18. I’ve interacted and lived with other communities during my studies, during my work here at Everglow.

I’ve also personally experienced my parents accessing aged care services. There are things we need to be aware of working with clients from different cultural backgrounds. The services are there, the help is there, but there’s a barrier in some cultures with accessing help with aged care.

A lot of people from different cultural backgrounds think old age is ‘end-of-life.’ “We don’t need to get any medical assistance, hearing, dentures, assistance with mobility. No, this is how it is. We’re old, we just have to live with it.”, and they rely on family to help them and support them during that period of time. It’s not really ‘end-of-life’ though, It’s a stage we can support them to live through, give them quality of life, take that burden off the family but it’s knowing how to work with different cultures. Not every culture you work with will be the same. You might have a specific community, but you’ll have different individuals and you’ve got to work with everyone differently.

A message I try to get across is that there’s no shame in starting to receive services. It’s expected in some cultures for you to care for your elderly until they pass away but you’ve got to look after yourself. That’s what we’re here for, to take that burden off you, of caring for your elders. It could be by introducing carers that speak the same language, from the same culture. It’s easier than introducing  a person from a different culture with different language. That could be another barrier that we’re adding in there.

We have huge diversity when it comes to our workforce, we’ve got workers from many different cultural backgrounds, and I’m one of them. They bring so many different characteristics. They bring different languages, they bring different ways of working with clients.

When we do carer interviews we ask, “Do you have this, do you have that?” but also you’ve got to have the passion and care to work in aged care. The main thing is the passion for helping the client. We’re more than happy to wait for that worker to go through all the certifications.  If they’re not qualified, we can put them through training. If the police check is delayed, we wait if they are the right person.

It’s a career that you start as a personal care worker, but it doesn’t mean you stop there. It’s all about you and how you work with your provider. The most important thing is getting out of your comfort zone because if you’re comfortable in doing something, you’ve got to challenge yourself to be able to move forward.

After years of working in different roles within aged care, I’ve been successful in being appointed the Chief Executive Officer for Everglow Community Care. It’s very rewarding, it’s very challenging but I’m looking forward to it.