Andrea’s first experience in the aged care industry was when she was living in Ireland and volunteered to work at the local community hospital. Andrea found she really enjoyed the one-on-one contact with patients and helping out with the activities.
So in 2012 when Andrea, along with her husband and four daughters, moved back to New Zealand, Andrea worked as a health care assistant and activities assistant. It was through these positions that Andrea obtained valuable experience and gained a new-found respect for the hard working people in these jobs.
This first-hand experience not only showed her how difficult the job can be at times but how it can be extremely rewarding. When a vacancy for Village Manager came up in the Bupa village next to the Ballarat Care Home, Andrea applied for the role and was successful. “I’ve been Ballarat’s village manager for two years now and cannot imagine doing anything else. It’s a wonderful job,” she says. “My day is so varied. As I’m the only staff member here I have to wear a few different hats! Most days I need to spend some time in the office keeping up with reports and answering emails and enquiries.
Every day I organise the activities for the residents and I check up on residents who are unwell or may need some assistance. Some days I drive the van to take the residents on an outing. There never seems to be a dull day! “I love the planning and execution of the activities for my residents.
I try to bring a few different items in each month. I find food brings residents together so we have regular morning and afternoon teas, and lunches. I love the one-on-one time I get with my residents – they have such interesting lives and some great stories.” Andrea goes on to add that her Dementia training at the care home was a very beneficial and gave her more understanding of the needs to those living with dementia and their families.
When asked if there was one thing she could change about the aged care industry, Andrea had the following to say: "I’d love to see older people more valued by society and in turn for those who work with them in care homes and retirement villages to be valued for the significant contribution they make in giving residents a great quality of life."