The aged care journey is complex and confusing. I know as I’ve actually lived it (or parts of it at least). At times it was highly emotional and very stressful. There were a lot of “things” that needed to be done. It felt like having two full-time jobs. I didn’t know where to start; who to ask questions of, what questions to ask, whether the answers to my questions were correct, on and on the uncertainty went.
Having been a financial planner since 2002, I made the decision to focus on aged care in mid-2018 due to this personal experience. Aged care is all that I do.
It’s an area that you simply can’t work in every now and then – it’s far too important for that, the stakes for getting it wrong are too high and the rules are always changing so you need to be totally committed and dedicated.
I have found the aged care industry to be “well-intentioned but misaligned”. Each area in the aged care value chain “does their bit” … but nobody helps you get from “one bit to the next”, you just have to work that out for yourself.
I started talking to people about whether they have had to deal with aged care, and just about everyone either has their own story to tell or knows someone who does. All concluding with “it’s a nightmare”.
I started to look around my local community and found that nobody was publicly talking about the aged care journey. I hired a local hall, invited some guest speakers along and put an advertisement in the local newspaper promoting a forum talking about aged care. People flocked to it.
From that point, I knew that my aged care business was viable and needed by people. Family Aged Care Advocates has developed since then where we now offer a full-range of aged care services throughout Australia.
I see first-hand the emotions and stresses that family members go through – both good and bad, happy and sad, certain and uncertain. Operating independently, I’m able to make a real difference to people’s lives helping them age with dignity. This is my destiny for the rest of my working life and beyond … no doubt about it.
(BN, RN, MH; Mental Health Nursing, MN; Adv. Practice Older Persons, MBA, GAICD)
My journey to Family Aged Care Advocates, began with a Nursing Degree in 2003. I have always been deeply intrigued about the human brain and how it functions so moved quickly into a mental health specialty, focusing on psychogeriatric nursing and completing my Masters of Mental Health Nursing. I also spent some time working in pharmacological research for dementia.
Moving back to NSW from Victoria, I decided it was a time to get into aged care. I have always been close to my grandparents, this transition in a way provided an outlet for not being able to actually physically do anything for them now, they being in New Zealand (and there is the connection to my name…my grandparent’s contribution to my identity). Motivated to practice at the highest clinical level, a Nurse Practitioner, I undertook my Master of Nursing; Advanced Practice Older Persons. Recognising I could help more people in a management role, when I moved to the North Coast I took the opportunity initially as a Director of Nursing for a large residential aged care facility and then as a Regional Manager for a large not for profit organisation, responsible for multiple residential aged care services, a home/community care service, the Commonwealth Carer Respite Service and Principal Officer for an Out of Home Care Foster Care program.
The period in management has provided me with an understanding of the sector that proves invaluable to help understand the where and why of problems that may occur. I understand why organisations often make decisions or require processes that just seem unhelpful and unfriendly. In tandem with that I understand the government processes that sit behind the systems, I understand the new quality standards and the implications of these for the sector. More importantly, and what has prompted this partnership with Shane and the Family Aged Care Advocates, is that I have seen transitions into care that have gone well, but more frequently I have seen transitions into care that could have been just that bit better with a few tweaks and a clearer understanding of the system.
Currently, to keep me connected to a purpose of helping people in meaningful ways and maintain my clinical skills, I am also working as a RN at a Residential Aged Care Facility.