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Elderly family members inspire careers in retirement living and aged care sector

Monday was a special day for the more than 427,000 residential care, home care and retirement living staff who care for over 1.5 million older Australians across the country and within our local communities.

For many it also was the chance to say thank you to their families, whose love and care has seen them reciprocate it in their new lives.

Virginia Vaughan (pictured left with Nicole Lee) is employed by Carinity, which provides retirement living, residential care and home care. She cares for seniors in her role with Carinity Home Care Rockhampton in Central Queensland.

“I was fortunate to grow up with two sets of grandparents – one of whom we lived with most of my childhood – and a set of great-grandparents. I have always had a deep regard for the lifelong experiences of the people around me,” she said.

“About eight years ago my grandfather became terminally ill, and I took turns with my mother to nurse him in his own home through his final months. This really made me passionate about ensuring people can stay in their homes as long as possible.

“I particularly enjoy a bit of banter and a good yarn about the extraordinary lives people have led so far. Building these relationships ensures that I know my clients well and can help forge the best support systems for them.”

Minnarose Chacko, who began working as a Clinical Nurse (Infection Control) at the Carinity Karinya Place aged care community in Laidley in QLD’s Lockyer Valley Region last year, is inspired by her family in India.

Her mother is a nurse and Minnarose also “had such a good bond with my grandma”.

“I love interacting with older people. I love to hear their life stories. It is mesmerising to see them smiling and being happy,” she said. “I am a person who believes that we will receive what we give. I always see myself in my residents. I know that I will be one of them in 50 years.

“I believe that all the help and assistance I provide to my residents today, I will receive when I am older.”

“My mother wanted me to go down the path of nursing”

“When I was in Year 11 at school, my mother actually enrolled me in the Certificate 3 Health Services Assistant as she wanted me to go down the path of nursing,” said Katie McDougall, Lifestyle Coordinator, Calvary Robina Rise Residential Aged Care in QLD’s Gold Coast.

“I attended the course and did my placement in an aged care home across the road from my school. I was only 16 and it was definitely an eye opener. I continued as a nursing assistant for around eight years filling in for the Lifestyle team here and there and found my passion very early on in my life.

“Later on after my trip to Africa I knew I needed a change and I drove past Calvary Robina Rise which was being built at the time, applied for the job and I haven’t looked back since.”

Katie was part of the foundation team and been at the facility for just over four years.

“I was a Leisure & Lifestyle Officer and just over a year ago progressed to Lifestyle Coordinator,” she said.

“My core focus is to make residents feel welcome, comfortable and actually enjoy where they are living as aged care has such a stigma. My main role is to plan, implement and evaluate a Lifestyle Program that provides a range of individual, group and community activities according to resident’s individual assessed mental, physical, social, emotional, cultural and spiritual needs and preferences.”

Katie loves her job.

“I absolutely love what I do. I don’t know what other job you can do where you can dance at concerts, dress up in the most outrageous costumes, throw spectacular special events, become a celebrity impersonator, spend time talking with residents who have a wealth of knowledge and have lived through so much. Lastly, I love just being there for them in their most vulnerable moments. It’s an absolute honour to be such a big part of their final years.”

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