Celebrating the aged care ‘superheroes’

For the fifth year, Australia’s aged care sector celebrated its workforce on Aged Care Employee Day Monday.

For the fifth year, Australia’s aged care sector celebrated its workforce on Aged Care Employee Day.

With the theme of Thanks for caring, the annual event – held on 7 August every year – provides an opportunity for providers, residents and families to show their gratitude to the 427,000 residential care, home care and retirement living staff who look after 1.5 million older Australians across the country each day.

Tom Symondson

“Aged Care Employee Day has become an important date in our calendar and reminds us of the caring and professional work of our aged care staff.” said Tom Symondson – chief executive officer of the Aged & Community Care Providers Association, which hosts the event. “They’re the backbone, the people who support our elders day in day out. They make the lives of older Australians better.”

Mr Symondson said the workforce had gone “above and beyond the call of duty” during the past 12 months.

“Our staff have faced the most challenging of conditions and been tested to the limit during the Covid pandemic, but they’ve proven to be care superheroes. Be they personal carers, nurses, kitchen and laundry staff, diversion therapy staff, allied health professionals, administrators, gardeners or volunteers they have all worked above and beyond the call of duty to keep our vulnerable older Australians cared for and safe.”

Minister for Aged Care Anika Wells took to social media to thank the workforce. “I am so grateful for the important work that aged care workers do day in day out,” said Ms Wells.

Regulatory body the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission also joined in the celebrations.

As did the Seniors Rights Service.

The Australian Nurses and Midwifery Federation also used social media to say thanks to it members.

Other stakeholders also recognised the day. Dementia Australia CEO Maree McCabe posted a message on Twitter. “Aged care employees play an important role in supporting people with dementia,” she said. “This Aged Care Employee Day I thank them for everything that they do.”

Also posting on social media, the Australian Physiotherapy Association.

Among the providers giving thanks to their workers was Whiddon, which initiated Aged Care Employee Day in 2018.

Chris Mamarelis

“It’s a special day for the sector, where every single employee working in aged care is acknowledged and recognised for the work they do to deliver quality care to our seniors,” said Whiddon CEO Chris Mamarelis.

“It’s an opportunity for us to step up and speak about the challenges faced by our aged care workforce,” he added. “We must support them the same way they have supported us. We must stand with them to ensure their important work is valued and appreciated.”

Aaron Young is Whiddon’s area head chef for the New South Wales Central Coast and Far West. Mr Young takes great pride in the positive impact his food can bring to the lives of residents.

Aaron Young

“I feel like I’m feeding my family. We don’t have any of my grandparents with us anymore, and they would be the same age as the residents at Whiddon. I see a lot of my grandparents in the residents I meet, and this is what makes it so enjoyable and rewarding.”

“To work in aged care is a privilege not a burden.”

Romina Rios Olivares

Clinical care coordinator at Whiddon’s Easton Park site in Glenfield NSW Romina Rios Olivares is proud to work in an industry with heart.

“To work in aged care is a privilege not a burden,” she said. “Our impact on each individual journey is vital and that’s a big part of what we do here at Whiddon.”

Anglicare Southern Queensland used Aged Care Employee Day to pay thanks to Patricia Hedge who has cared for residents at its Symes Thorpe Residential Aged Care Home in Toowoomba for close to five decades.

“I was always interested in working in aged care from an early age,” said Ms Hedge. “Even as a kid I used to be doing things for elderly people and it sort of developed through the years.”

Patricia Hedge

During her time at Anglicare Ms Hedge has seen a lot of changes. “In my day we did everything. We didn’t have hoists, manual handling techniques, standards, and other guidelines to create that safe working environment. There were no lifestyle therapists and nowhere near as many nurses. We would be responsible for the holistic care of each person both in the aged care home and out in the community we supported.”

Symes Thorpe facility manager Antonia Hynes said Ms Hedge was a valued member of the Anglicare team. “I would like to take this opportunity to thank her continued dedication and tireless efforts on this Aged Care Employee Day.”

Frank Weits

ACH Group also participated in the event. The South Australian aged care and retirement living provider’s CEO Frank Weits said the day is important for both the sector and the wider community.

“Aged Care Employee Day celebrates the hundreds of thousands of Australians involved in supporting older people who receive aged care services and recognises the incredible work they do. I thank all the staff at ACH Group for their care and passion in supporting older people to live good lives.”

Nem Davies

ACH celebrated the day by delivering gifts to each of its 1,900 employees. Among them, registered nurse Nem Davies who has worked at the group’s West Park Residential Care Home in Goolwa since 2014.

“I love the challenge and how rewarding the job is.”

“I have a sense of belonging in aged care,” said Ms Davies. In a residential care home, you learn more about the residents, their routines, their families – there’s a greater connection.”

Being a registered nurse is a gratifying role, said Ms Davies. “I love the challenge and how rewarding the job is. It is wonderful to see residents who regain their health and wellbeing.”

Queensland aged care provider Carinity also paid tribute its employees. Among them is nurse Jenny Boettcher who has worked in aged care for three decades.

Jenny Boettcher

She currently works at Carinity’s Wishart Gardens site as an assistant in nursing in the memory support unit. “My favourite part of the job is receiving a smile or a thank you for doing something which the resident has really appreciated. I enjoy making them happy by doing the little things they are unable to do themselves,” said Ms Boettcher. “I particularly enjoy looking after the seniors who have dementia. They are special people. That is my passion.”

Ms Boettcher recommends a career in aged care – no matter what the role. “It is great to give back to seniors who have given so much to others in years gone by.”

Grant Quint

Bolton Clarke employee Grant Quint works with the provider’s At Home Support team. “My average day is anything from helping clients showering to transport, going for a walk or even watching a movie with them.”

Mr Quint is keen to upskill and pursue nursing studies. “I see a lot of wounds and wound management when I go to clients’ homes and I refer them to our nurses, so I feel I want to be able to do more for them.”

“Looking after our residents is something I genuinely love.”

Patricia Dean has worked as a personal care assistant for Catholic aged and disability care provider VMCH for 25 years. “Getting to know the residents and hearing their life stories or where they’ve been in life brings me joy,” she said. “Some days can be exhausting but looking after our residents is something I genuinely love.”

Helping older people remain as independent as possible is what motivates home care worker Wendy Elkington, who has worked at VMCH for 20 years. “I feel so grateful to have met so many wonderful people along the way,” she said.

Rachna Power is the chef manager at VMCH. “I feel blessed to have the skill and ability to deliver hearty, home-cooked meals for our residents,” she said. “Seeing their empty plates gives me the same joy as feeding my own family.”

CEO Sonya Smart thanked Ms Dean, Ms Elkington and Ms Power and the entire VMCH team for their outstanding contributions throughout the past 12 months.

“Aged Care Employee Day is a time to reflect on the tireless efforts made by our aged care workers and volunteers each and every day, and I thank them for their resilience, passion and commitment as they care for our ageing community.”

Main image: Virginia Vaughan and Nicole Lee, who care for seniors at Carinity Home Care Rockhampton

Comment on the story below. Follow Australian Ageing Agenda on LinkedInX (Twitter) and Facebook, sign up to our twice-weekly newsletter and subscribe to our premium content or AAA magazine for the complete aged care picture.  

Tags: ACCPA, ach, Aged Care Employee Day, Anglicare Southern Queensland, anika wells, carinty, Chris-Mamarelis, featured, Tom Symondson, VMCH, whiddon,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *