Supporting aged care residents through their journey

Monday, 19 February, 2024

Supporting aged care residents through their journey

Sandra Osborne’s long-time passion to become a nurse started right from the time she was in high school.

Now Director of Care Services at Whiddon Grafton, Sandra’s enthusiasm for nursing was realised during Year 10 at school. She applied for work experience at the local hospital, spent two weeks working there and already knew by that stage that she wanted to be a nurse. After finishing Year 12, she then moved from her hometown of Grafton to Brisbane to study as a pupil enrolled nurse at the Royal Brisbane Hospital.

“This time away from home gave me life skills as well as a varied knowledge of nursing care for all situations including emergency, surgery and public relations,” said Sandra said.

“After completing my course and becoming registered with Ahpra, I moved back to my hometown in the hope of getting work at our local base hospital.

“I decided to widen my options and I was encouraged by family to apply at a local aged care home — known then as Livingstone House (Frank Whiddon Masonic Homes).”

Sandra personally canvassed the home, dropping her resume in on a Thursday. By Friday, she had already received a call.

“They were impressed with my resume and qualifications, and I was asked to start work on the Saturday afternoon,” Sandra said.

This was 35 years ago — but, to this day, Sandra is still working with Whiddon. The company has supported her career into management roles, from Deputy Director to Director of Care Services.

“I can clearly remember my very first shift as though it was yesterday,” Sandra said.

“I was met at the front door by one of the female residents who showed me to the staff area. She then took me to the registered nurse on duty, stating as she left to ‘Make sure you are at my room promptly at 7 pm to put me in my night attire and tuck me into bed’. This comment was the first of many during my nursing years. After 35 years with Whiddon, there are so many stories to tell!”

Sandra has also seen a considerable number of changes in the aged care sector during these years. However, the one thing that hasn’t changed — and the main reason she has remained working in aged care — is the residents.

“Being involved with the residents and being an aged care nurse means that I can make a difference in someone’s life,” Sandra said.

“Being able to become a part of their family and they, ours. To listen to their stories and share in their life stories. This interaction is so heartwarming — even just having the ability to put a smile on somebody’s face.”

Sandra starts her day with a catch-up with her clinical staff. This involves a focus on the wellbeing of all residents, and making sure the roster has the correct skills mix with care staff for each of the facility wings.

“I stop and chat with any resident who is up and about. By 10 am, our residents have made their way to our activity room and this is where I have the time to interact with most of our residents,” Sandra said.

“There is usually a bit of singing and lots of laughter. I always have an open door for staff, residents and their families.

“It is a privilege for me to be a part of a resident’s journey during their stay with us. In particular, providing comfort and being with them at the end of their journey is both emotional and special. To give support to their family in their difficult time to say goodbye. It has had a huge impact on my own life and values — and it has made me the person I am today.”

Images: Supplied.

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