ILSA BIRD

Sector Support Coordinator, Your Side Australia, NSW

I am 33 years old and I live in the Northern Beaches in Sydney. I am passionate about improving the quality of life of older Australians and those living with dementia. 

I have worked in aged care for three years. I’ve spent two years implementing a diversional therapy program for people living with dementia in residential care, and one year as Sector Support for home and community care providers. Prior to this, I was a high school health teacher.

My background is in health education, and I moved into aged care because I love working with people. I wanted to give back to the generations before me.

I am the Sector Support Coordinator for the Northern Sydney Region, and I have recently taken on the role of Project Manager for the Northern Beaches Dementia Friendly Community Project.

I am also the Chair of the Northern Beaches Dementia Alliance. This project was initiated as a pilot project to work towards becoming a dementia friendly community in the Northern Beaches. The Alliance are working in partnership with the Northern Beaches Council and Dementia Australia to achieve this.

My role is to lead the project initiatives which includes:

- community awareness workshops with local businesses, community organisations and community members to encourage them to become dementia friendly organisations and dementia friends

- facilitating inter-generational education in local primary schools in partnership with UNSW 

- creating partnerships between local schools and residential care facilities to participate in music therapy sessions

I like the challenge and feeling as though I can make a difference in the lives of those living with dementia. I like that even the smallest act of kindness can make a difference to someone's day. 

My job has taught me that aged care goes beyond formal services. I have learnt that we all have responsibility to care for those around us. For example, shop owners can show kindness and patience to their customers, and whole communities can support people living with dementia by creating safe environments.

It has taught me that every life deserves to be valued and their story heard. It has taught me that 'care' is more than providing a service, it is support that is holistic and person-centered, where needs as well as wants and values are respected and met with dignity.

It has taught me that people are amazing, that so many have a great story to tell. 

I believe to work in aged care you need humility. Aged care is not something that we do to someone, it’s a journey and partnership with an individual where they have choice and control. Without humility aged care becomes just a job, just a service, just a task. Humility allows us to take on a role where we can be of service to others and allows them to take the lead. 

There is personal fulfillment and reward in working with others, especially if you are able to play a role in helping them to achieve goals such as independence or improved quality of life. We have the opportunity to make a difference in individual lives, and create social change in our local communities to alter the perception of aged care. 

 

 
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Without humility aged care becomes just a job, just a service, just a task. Humility allows us to take on a role where we can be of service to others and allows them to take the lead.