Moeapulu (known as Moe) says her 40 years at Bupa Parkhaven, in Auckland, has been fuelled by close relationships.
“It’s about my relationship with my residents and co-workers. I know them all really well and it’s like a family,” she says.
She had earlier trained at a hospital in Apia, Samoa, before getting married and moving to New Zealand, in 1974, with her husband and two eldest children.
When Moeapulu started her long career with Bupa Parkhaven in 1980, there was only one resident and a registered nurse on site.
“The place was still being built around us,” she says.
It took about three months before the residents really started coming in – and from then on Moeapulu says, “It’s been really good”.
“It has really changed over the years, and there have been team members and residents come and go, but the environment has always been good.”
As a caregiver Moeapulu has worked an array of hours, but for many years now has been a night-shift worker clocking in from 11pm to 7am.
“The ladies at night-time said it was hard for them with children, and my children had all grown up, so I didn’t mind swapping to help out,” she says.
“One of the things I like about working here, and why I have been here so long, is the team always pitches in to help others.”
Moeapulu says her passion has always been caring for the residents, and she’s never had the desire to move into management or explore different sites.
“I prefer here because I know everyone. When I come to work all the girls will call out ‘Hi Mum’ - but I say, ‘Excuse me, I’m not your Mum’. They all laugh at me, but it is really good,” she says.
At 72-years-old Moeapulu has no immediate plans to retire, with COVID-19 proving to her just how much she loves her job.
“When the lockdown started, three of us had to stay home because of our age. I stayed home for about six weeks and I really missed the residents and my team,” she says.
“My kids always say to me ‘Mum why don’t you retire’, and I say, ‘As long as my feet are moving, and my hands are moving - I will keep going’.
“I always say, ‘Never mind when I can’t walk anymore, I will just come to Bupa Parkhaven and they can look after me’. But I’m glad the man up there gives me the strength to keep going.”