Working With The Best Gets Me Through Aged Care

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Everyone you know will have at least one complaint about something they do at work. And even after this job isn’t exactly what she expected, how good is this optimism from a nurse working in aged care? Nicole* walks us through her typical day and how it contrasts to what she hoped for before she started. It might not be all sunshine and roses, but knowing your colleagues are incredible at their job can really motivate you every day. 

I work in an aged care, non-profit facility in rural Victoria. I’ve been in the industry for nearly four years. I chose to enter the aged care industry as I have always enjoyed the company of elderly people and I thought my days would be filled with caring, talking, gentle personal care. And the occasional walk in the garden. Maybe I was naive?

Yes.

I generally work short shifts in both the low-care and high-care (dementia unit) and my days certainly do not include walks in the garden, playing cards or baking with my residents. And I’m definitely not a young model posing with a good-looking older person in a glossy brochure produced to encourage new applicants to enter this industry!

So what are my jobs I actually do in a four hour shift starting at 6.30?

  • Prepare kitchen for two sittings of breakfasts for 20 residents,
  • prepare linen for bed changes,
  • knock on doors cheerily saying “good morning”,
  • assisting residents with getting out of bed,
  • picking out their clothes, toileting, showering, oral health, making beds,
  • sorting and preparing clothes for washing.

By this time my co-worker has signed in and we have a quick chat before we both run in different directions.

  • do breakfasts (x2)
  • hand out meds,
  • back to laundry
  • -coffee break ten minutes-
  • back on the floor,
  • finish laundry,
  • load dryer or hang clothes outside,
  • load up dishwashers,
  • reset kitchens,
  • morning tea for residents,
  • take dirty linen skip to main laundry and throw the garbage bags filled with incontinence aids, hoping and praying the bags don’t burst,
  • kitchen scraps etc into the dumpster (out the back),And then… I go home.

The dementia unit is full of lost and confused residents and requires extraordinary patience and care and it is a hard gig physically and mentally. So where is the time to chat, care, laugh and talk with our residents? We do our absolute best but we don’t have time – our staffing ratio of 2/20 is apparently adequate. I don’t think so!

I love my job and I love the beautiful men and women I work with. They are extraordinarily, caring, compassionate people. For what we do and how we do it, I believe we are pretty damn good.

It doesn’t take much to say to your colleagues “You are appreciated” and I’m sure they appreciate you too, Nicole. 

*Name has been changed to protect identity.

If you’d like to contribute to Nurse Uncut, please contact us via nurseuncut@nswnma.asn.au

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