When we meet new people in social situations one of the first things they tend to ask, apart from ‘what’s your name?’ is ‘what do you do for a living?’
I have been working in the aged care industry for just shy of ten years and regardless of the varied positions I’ve held in the industry; from working as an AIN in my early 20s, working as a Case Manager in home care packages, to becoming a Diversional Therapists based in both residential aged care and working in allied health settings to now assisting to support clinical staffing shortfalls and placing the right people in positions where they can make a difference. The response is almost always the same.
I often receive a sympathetic look, sometimes followed by a condescending sigh, a hand or arm on my shoulder followed by a remark like: ‘you must be a really patient person, I could never do that.’ I was at a wedding recently where a gentleman said to me, ‘Out of all the careers you could have had, what made you choose aged care? It’s not exactly a sexy industry.’
The answer is I didn’t choose aged care, it chose me.
From an early age, I knew exactly what I wanted to do, or at least I thought I knew. I wanted to work with kids and teens who had experienced trauma. Whilst at university I commenced working for a Respite and Community Support Service. I supported children and teens living with a disability but most of the clients I worked with were older people living in their own homes. I really enjoyed working with this service and it’s where my love of aged care sparked.
Every day I looked forward to going to work and listening to the incredible life stories of clients, building repour and assisting them with their needs. Each client had an incredible story to tell and personality to match. I felt so privileged to care for these individuals. One client had a house full of collectable dolls, she could no longer sit on her living room couch because it had been turned into a displayed feature with dolls from all around the world. Everywhere you looked there were dolls and each doll had a story. Every time I visited I learned the story of the newest addition, where it came from and the journey it took to find its way to be proudly placed on display. Another older couple who I assisted had their living room walls from floor to ceiling covered in photos. There was no space left on the wall, I wouldn’t even be able to tell you what colour the walls were. Before I left each visit I was treated the story behind one of the photos. The time they met Slim Dusty at a pub and inspired one of his legendary songs. The time they went wild Brumby chasing in the mountains, lassoing wild brumbies from the back of ute to be broken in on the farm. The stories always colourful and full of life. They were eager to share, and I was eager to listen!
I have had the great honor of caring for veterans, politicians, inventors, activists, survivors, mothers, fathers and even the incredible woman who served as Winton Churchill’s driver! My face lights up when I recount the stories and incredible life experiences of the people I have been so privileged to get to know and support. Working in the aged care industry gives you an immense appreciation for life, family and the many opportunities we are now afforded. I have many fantastic memories of the incredible people I supported throughout my career. I have experienced so much personal growth working in the aged care industry, from the people I have been honored to assist, to my mentors and colleagues I have had the opportunity to learn from. My passion for aged care is as strong as ever and I am proud to be working for a company that shares my passion and vison of supporting older people, clients and professionals in the aged care industry.
So, when people ask me, ‘what do you do for a living?’ I smile, put my shoulders back, stand tall and with great pride and enthusiasm I tell them!