Compassion, respect and patience. These are the qualities of a special group of employees to be celebrated on May 12, 2016.
Karen Piper, Michelle Willison and Catherine Hammond (pictured L-R) are among more than 1,000 nurses from not-for-profit aged and disability services organisation Villa Maria Catholic Homes (VMCH) to be honoured as part of International Nurses Day (IND).
The trio, who work at VMCH’s St Catherine’s aged care residence in Balwyn, hold a combined 74 years’ of service supporting some of the most vulnerable people in our community.
And caring for older people in particular holds a special place in each of their hearts.
“Working with the elderly is a great privilege,” said Care Manager Karen. “The years of knowledge and wisdom that they have built up is wonderful and they are so happy to pass on to others.”
Registered Nurse Catherine agreed.
“I love looking after elderly people and being able to be involved in delivering good care and a happy atmosphere. I feel rewarded when relatives are able to leave the residence and feel that the person they have left behind is safe and in good hands.”
The call to nursing came sooner than later in life for some.
Residential Services Manager Michelle, who has also worked across paediatrics, acute surgical, nursing administration and rehabilitation, said she wanted to become a “nun or a nurse” from age nine.
“But I also wanted children, so nursing won out!” she laughed.
Like Michelle, Catherine became attracted to the field at a young age.
“My father didn’t believe girls needed an education and had not let my older sisters remain at school after Form Five. My mother – who had an opposite view about female education as it had been denied to her – applied for a nursing bursary for me to enable me to remain at school and complete Form Six.”
Karen came to nursing later in life, after owning and running her own businesses for more than 20 years.
“When the businesses were sold I felt it was the right time to pursue what I really had always wanted to do.”
While the trio all love their jobs, they describe nursing as challenging; requiring hard work, patience and flexibility.
Administering medications, managing wounds, communicating with families, completing staff rosters and important care plans are among just a few of their daily tasks.
They view teamwork, diversity in their roles and learning and development opportunities as the keys to a successful nursing career.
But above all, a passion for supporting the older people in their care remains their ultimate motivation.
“The residents here are always appreciative and always telling the nursing staff they are great and how much they appreciate us,” Karen said. “They laugh, cry with us and create a sense of family and community which makes a wonderful setting to come to work each day.”
Geraldine Webster, VMCH Residential Services General Manager, described nurses as the “heartbeat” of aged care.
“Our nurses are well-trained, knowledgeable and play a significant role in maintaining the wellbeing of residents through all aspects of health care and social and spiritual needs,” she said.
“It’s important each year to stop and acknowledge the contribution and dedication of nurses and their important role in strengthening health systems, as well as supporting the lives of residents and families.”