Taking that extra moment to care never goes unnoticed-just ask Northern Territory Pride of Australia medal winner, Di Fuamoli.

The Masonic Homes’ personal care worker, Ms Fuamoli, was recently awarded one of the state’s top honours after being as nominated for the ‘Care and Compassion’ category by a resident’s daughter.

“It obviously felt really great to win but it was totally unexpected,” Ms Fuamoli said.

Bearing humble characteristics, the nomination itself was enough for Ms Fuamoli. The residents at Tiwi Gardens Lodge however, had great faith in her abilities and held her in a very high regard. So, on the night of the awards ceremony they presented her with a token medal made out of aluminium foil, in the belief that she would win.

“I guess to me, the award means a lot because it shows the appreciation of the family. That was the big thing. It didn’t matter if I won or not. It was the fact that someone cared to nominate me.

“I think that you can get so much out of this job on a personal level if you are prepared to put a lot into it. Aged care is not so much about the clinical side of things but it’s about giving a quality of life that is personal and purposeful. I like to think that I am giving the residents the same care that I would give my mother.”

Ms Fuamoli has been at the lodge for more than seven years and in the personal caring game for 15.

“I feel like I can make a difference. All of the people I work with here are all at the end stages of their lives. I would like to think that just by being there for them I can make it easier for them so that they can enjoy whatever time they have left.”

If ever there was a lesson to be learnt from someone who has spent a lifetime caring for other people, it is that aged care is not just about the resident. It is also about all of the people in the resident’s personal community, including their family members.

“[The resident] first came to me as a dementia patient. We went through the whole cycle of the early stages to the end stage of life. I think just being able to relate to the resident and including the family into the care of the mother made a big difference.

“Families are very important. We have a support group [for families], especially new families so that they don’t have to feel that they are facing this new struggle by themselves. They aren’t alone and the support is really important.

The most essential piece of advice that Ms Fuamoli can give others, new to aged care is to “keep it personal and individual.

“They’re not just a group of residents. They are all individuals.”

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