Wednesday 12 May is International Nurses Day.
Jyoti and Alisha have been working for St Bernadette’s Aged Care Residence, Sunshine North for five and three years. Both started out as Personal Care Assistants (PCAs) before undertaking further study and training to become Registered Nurses (RNs).
“I was 19 when I started working here, when I came to Australia from Nepal,” says Jyoti. “It was a real home away from home. I love working with older people, especially when they smile as you when you walk past.
Alisha, also from Nepal says being a nurse in aged care is “a childhood dream” for her.
“I started nursing at home in Nepal, and when I came here I worked in aged care. At home, we’re used to living with elderly people, so it’s like one big family here.
“Starting out as a PCA here in Australia was lovely, I became so close to all the residents, I get to know all about them and their lives.”
In Nepal, Jyoti and Alisha both say that while they often live with their older relatives, they don’t monitor their health as we do within aged care residences. Jyoti says this makes a big difference in their overall health outcomes.
“Here, now I can monitor their health,” says Jyoti, “and we get to know them so well, so when something changes we notice it. It’s so important that we look after our residents like they’re our grandparents.”
As part of their role as a RN, Jyoti and Alisha handle residents’ medications, coordinate external health services, monitor residents for any health changes, and have the added responsibilities of assisting with the COVID vaccine rollout.
“We have been very busy calling families about the importance of the vaccine, and explaining the specifics. The consultation with families and getting ready is very important, we are here to also provide the families with support, guidance and reassurance before the vaccinations, and then we will be monitoring the residents post-vaccination.”
While Jyoti loves being a nurse, she says it can be challenging when residents enter palliative care, as it is a very emotional time.
“It affects us all. While we are here to support and reassure the families, we are affected as well, sometimes that is a challenge.
Alisha added “It’s always hard to see them go. When it’s their time to go it is hard for us, because we are emotionally connected to them.
“Especially for nurses, I think keeping strong is both a strength and a weakness, it’s the emotions that make it harder. But at the end of the day a smile from the residents can make it easier.”
“But other than that, being a nurse is a very rewarding job, especially in aged care,” says Jyoti. “Working in a hospital, you don’t build that emotional connection, it’s so fast paced. Working with residents, and knowing their history, hearing their stories, it’s very impactful.”
“Seeing residents smiling, we know we make a difference,” says Jyoti. “We’re helping to change their lives and looking after their daily needs.”