Living in Sunshine North, Di watched the new St Bernadette’s Aged Care Residence being built across from her house. Di, who was of the last hospital-trained Enrolled Nurses at the Williamstown Hospital, walked across the road and applied for a job. She was given the tick of approval, and when the residence opened, she assisted with admitting the residents into their new home.
That was 25 years ago. Today, as part of her role as an EN, Di does a whole range of tasks. She helps manage and treat health conditions, provides correct medication administration, wound care, as well as the very important social needs.
What is the biggest change you’ve seen from when you started to now?
After 25 years of working at St Bernadette’s, the changes have been immense. We originally opened as a 50-bed hostel. Five years later the 30 bed nursing home was built, and approximately 10 years after that the building was redesigned to open a 15-bed dementia-specific area.
The most significant changes have been the implementation of the policies and procedures over the years. These changes have been extremely important to ensure the aged care residences are run safely and correctly. The only downfall is the amount of paperwork required, which means we are taken off the floor, and unfortunately reduces the time I get to spend with the residents.
What does it mean to you to work at VMCH?
I am proud to be part of VMCH. Their values are what I believe in myself, so its humbling to be working with an organisation that shares my same goals.
What do you love most about your role?
Most of the residents have survived so much in their lives, including the Depression, wars, and raising families through very tough times. Unfortunately, most of the residents are admitted to the residence due to health reasons, and they can become depressed due to losing their independence. The sadness can be heartbreaking, but if I can bring a smile and laughter to their lives for even a short time whilst I am there, then that is the most rewarding part of my job.
Unfortunately, most people see the elderly as a shell, they perceive the outside as the person, but don’t find the time to see the jewels within.
What I see is:
• a person who has fought through many wars.
• a person who has gone through the Depression, wondering how they will find food for their next meal.
• a person who has worked so hard to provide for their families, with no assistance from anybody.
• a person that has watched their own family and friends pass away while they still survive.
• a person who is slowly watching their bodies deteriorate with age, when their mind is still as active as when they were young.
I wish everyone could look past that shell, and to cherish what lies beneath – to find the treasure within the box!
What do you love about the team at St Bernadette’s?
The team at St Bernadette’s are a wonderful group of people to work with. There is such a vast variety of cultures within the staff, but everyone works harmoniously together, which makes the residence a wonderful and vibrant home for the residents.
What do you like to do outside of work?
I have six beautiful grandchildren that I love with all my heart, and to spend time with them is so precious. I also have a passion for renovating homes. I have renovated around 10 houses so far, it’s a bit of an obsession. I also like sewing, cooking, and to build projects in my ‘woman cave’ out the back with all my power tools.