Australians are being encouraged to recognise the positive contribution of those who work in aged care on today’s Aged Care Employee Day.
“I absolutely love it. I am passionate about the older generation – they have given so much in their lives to society and this country,” says Tasmanian Enrolled Nurse Nicki Hood.
Nicki, who works at not-for-profit Melaleuca Home for the Aged in Tasmania’s north-west, made a career change about six years ago.
“I was in retail management for the past 20 years but felt less in touch with people. I went into aged care and I love it. I have a huge amount of respect for the older generation and am passionate about making a difference in people’s lives.”
Aged Care Employee Day is a national day that gives the opportunity to say thank you to the more than 365,000 people who care for and support the estimated 1.3 million older Australians who receive care and services each year.
It aims to celebrate all workers caring for older Australians, from nurses and carers to cooks and cleaners, laundry employees, volunteers and leisure and lifestyle officers.
Melaleuca is a 48-bed high care facility with residents whose health conditions include motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis and dementia.
Nicki, who undertook a certificate IV in Leisure and Health, provides programs for the ‘sundowners’ who wander at sunset.
She says the complexity of health conditions, high acuity and challenging behaviours means you have to be the right fit to work in aged care.
“You need to have compassion and empathy. There are often challenging behaviours; you have to understand it’s not them, it’s their disease; you have to keep that at the forefront of your mind and have empathy.”
Nicki is responsible for the care of 24 residents per shift, including medication administration, assessments, wound care, and diet changes.
She works alongside an RN and personal care workers.
“We do not have time to do lots of little things for the resident. We have to prioritise; what I have to do is to ensure the safety and wellbeing of residents and provide the level of care that is required.”
Nicki believes ACFI is an inadequate funding tool in order to staff high care.
She says the ANMF’s campaign for mandated staffing ratios in aged care is a step in the right direction.
“Staffing workload and skill mix is not formally recognised. There needs to be some formal recognition of appropriate levels of staffing and skills mix in aged care otherwise unscrupulous providers will get away with the bare minimum in staffing and it’s sad.”
Working in aged care is incredibly rewarding, says Nicki.
“You can make a difference and it doesn’t have to be big things. I have a resident who doesn’t have any family members in town. I get her some wool and she knits; it keeps her busy and active. She donates what she makes to charity; she is still part of the community. Just because someone is in a nursing facility doesn’t mean they are no longer part of society. The older generation have so much knowledge, wisdom, and stories to share.”
Nicki and colleagues will celebrate their work today with a morning tea.
To participate in the event or for more information and resources on Aged Care Employee Day visit www.agedcareday.com.au