SHARON BROOKSBY

HOME CARER, MURRAY MALLEE AGED CARE

I work for Murray Mallee Aged Care with Home Care clients in Regional South Australia, although I don’t like calling them clients it sounds too clinical to me, I like saying ‘the people I visit’!

I basically go into people’s homes and help them with their personal care, showering, grooming, domestic work, things like doing the laundry, washing dishes, preparing a meal, but also provide them with social support, just sitting with them and talking as often carers are the only people they see so we act as their lifeline to the rest of the world.

I’ve been working in aged care for about a year and a half, but my actual background is in sales.  It’s quite a shift from working in retail to working with the aged community, but I absolutely love it.  I truly feel like I’ve discovered the job I’ve been waiting my whole life to find because I really can’t imagine doing anything else now. 

There has never been a day I’ve been doing this job where I’ve woken up thinking oh no I’ve got to go to work.  Each and every day after vising people I come away with a real sense of satisfaction and pride, knowing that I’ve helped someone live as independently as possible and enabled them to still have their own life.  

It really is a huge privilege working in a sector where you have people who are so genuinely pleased to see and talk to you.  It has exceed my expectations well beyond what I thought the role would involve and how it would make me feel.

I consider myself a real people person, I just love talking to people.  Everyone I go to visit all have such wonderful stories, such different stories, and for them to have someone to sit and talk to, someone who will listen and who they can pass their knowledge onto is a huge honour given these people have lived a whole lifetime that I’ve never known. 

We’re often told to try not to get too attached to clients but it’s important to build a bond and friendship with the people you care for, important for them and important for you. I can’t imagine having to walk away from any of the people I visit for any reason, I couldn’t do that, they become like your family.  

I love every single person that I go and help, and take huge joy from my daily interactions with them knowing I’m helping them and knowing that help is appreciated, although you never make people feel they have to be grateful for your help.   

I have one little lady in particular who has dementia and lives at home with her husband.  I’ve been with her for almost 12 months and there’s a particular bond that I have with her which always puts a smile on my face. 

With people that have dementia they slowly forget how to do things for themselves and their independence slips away.  Remembering where the light switch is for kitchen or how to turn the kettle on, or getting confused dressing themselves, all those basic skills we all take for granted are difficult. 

You can’t’ drag people with dementia back into reality it’s just not possible, so I often slip into her reality and we have this special friendship where nothing is taboo.  There are days of clarity and days where things aren’t so good.  But when we can we laugh and when there's tears I comfort her and give her a hug.

I’ve developed a lovely relationship with her husband too as I think it's really important to have that interaction with the husband or the wife of the person that you're helping look after, because it's also about their wellbeing so that they can still function together in the same house.

Living with a partner with dementia can be tiring and very stressful because she's dealing with her dementia and so is her husband, but he also has his own health issues and at the same time is still grieving for the woman that was his wife, so it can be quite upsetting for everyone at times.    

It's sad but unfortunately I don't think any of us ever imagine that’s how our Golden Years are going to be and we deal with it the best way can, I like to approach it with the sense of humour where possible. 

Consideration, kindness, having a good ear to really listen and lots of patience go a very long way in this industry. 

When I meet someone for the first time I always introduce myself and have a chat for a bit so I can then get my bearings and quickly asses my surroundings to understand who these people are and what they need from me. 

I change my approach for each individuals I go and see as I think part of my job is to stop and listen and respect how those people want things to be done.  I'm there to help that person and it's not for me to organise them and tell them how they should be living, it's about doing what they need rather than what I think they should have done.

Then at the end of each time I spend with a client I always make a point of saying thank you for having me in your home because again it comes down to trust, I'm a stranger going into their home initially and I think it's very important to convey that you respect them and their home, and it costs nothing to say thank you and I hope to see you again sooner rather than later.

I’d say to anyone thinking about working in aged care have a go!  If you’re the sort of person who likes to help people it is definitely the role for you, and you will certainly get more back than what you put in. 

I guarantee you will go home each day with a huge sense of satisfaction from helping such wonderful people, you will develop lovely relationships and you will learn a lot because these people and their stories are just incredible. 

 
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I truly feel like I’ve discovered the job I’ve been waiting my whole life to find because I really can’t imagine doing anything else now.