I look forward to coming to work every day, pretty much. I’ve been in the industry for a really long time, this is my 46th year as a carer. It’s pretty good. 

I’ve always loved doing what I do. Just the joy you can put on someone’s face, just by being yourself. 

Aged care is disrespected by so many, but it’s nice to be surrounded by people. If you’re having a bad day, they’ll lift you up. Things are so difficult at the moment with all the bad stuff that’s come out of the royal commission, and that’s set us back on our backsides for a little while. It’s upsetting. 

I’m a very strong union person, and I think having the backing of the union to say this isn’t right, we need to do more, we need to be louder, we need to involve governments. 

It’s no good blaming the people we work for – I work for a not-for-profit residential company – it’s no good blaming them, because they can only do what they can with the funding they get.

My biggest bug bear is that we are so disrespected, and as care workers we get a lot of disrespect from media and people who should know better. 

The good thing is though, that by having the royal commission, people out in the community are actually listening to us now. We’ve never really had a voice, so I’m just looking forward to the future. 

I’ve only got a few more years until I retire, and I want to make a difference for my future. I’m going into aged care, I don’t have children so I don’t have a choice unless something terrible happens out of the blue. 

But I want to be able to give people the right to have what they want. 

We all have days where, when you lose somebody, you grieve. You’re told you have to be professional, this is your job. But every person that we lose takes a little bit of us. It can be hard but we’ve got some wonderful families that include us. It’s wonderful . We have families that include us and that makes a huge difference because we probably know more about their relatives as they are now than they do. 

You can’t help but get close to residents. They all want hugs. They all want cuddles. They all want a little piece of your time, and that can be really frustrating when we don’t have the time because we are so task orientated. Hopefully with the new standards that will change. We’ll be able to go to person-centered care in a true way. 

There has been a change already. We’re not getting more staff. But we are being listened to. And I think that’s really important, that our employers and CEOs are listening to us because we actually have a voice for the first time.

Nobody knows what you go through other than the people you work with. All those quirky things that we do to make it easier for our residents, we pass on and we do laugh at some stupid things. But we’re not laughing at the residents, you’re just laughing at the situation. That can be misread. It’s all the little things.

We have a really good team where I work and we don’t mix outside work very often, but we are on Facebook, we have our own Whatsapp Group. We can get on there and offload. But I did see your page (Aged Care Workers Support Group) and I did think these girls are exactly like we are. Sometimes when I get home at half-past 10, 11 o’clock I have a little look at your page.

Age Care Employee Day is great. I work in Western Australia, and last year we had our own ‘Thank you for working in aged care day’, not just for carers but for everybody, gardeners, the whole bit, and that was just amazing and we’re going it again this year. And other facilities are taking it up too which is great.

Jude Clarke

 

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