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The world of aged care nursing– by RN Brad Winter


“I work in a world of crocheted rugs, prunes for breakfast and jelly bean bingo. It is also a world of complex comorbid states, dementia in all forms and care of the dying. It is a world of these things, and so much more, the world of aged care.

Specifically, I am a Registered Nurse working in a Residential Aged Care Facility – most people, including me, would call my workplace a ‘nursing home’, the government have recently started calling them ‘Aged care homes’ – all are correct and you will see me use these and other terms to describe my workplace. An aged care home is a facility in which some level of care is provided to an older person on either a permanent or respite (temporary) basis. All homes are different, catering to a huge range of needs and preferences, including religion, lifestyle and environmental factors.

Many homes, such as mine, are run by a team of Registered Nurses and carers with the help of allied health and medical teams as well as a list as long as your arm of support and lifestyle staff. It is a multifaceted, complex team structure which is absolutely imperative for the safety and quality of life of the residents within aged care.

Whenever I mention to someone that I work in aged care, I am usually asked something like “So…you do the medications, and stuff?” The answer is yes, ‘and stuff’ mostly. To be fair, most people only see those “Nurses are angels” and similar rubbish memes that go around which make me out to be a flitting, nurturing, angelic being who talks in a voice three octaves above normal saying ‘caring’ things and exuding a soft glow of light about myself…while giving medications. No, just no.

My apologies for that little rant, those meme’s drive me bonkers! So what do I do then? I am the principle care planner for all facets of my resident’s care while in the facility. I am the central point for the allied health team who assist with looking after that resident which requires me to both advocate for my resident’s best interest, and to facilitate the approach of other team members to ensure a smooth run. While I’m doing that, I’m looking after all the frontline nursing tasks for that resident which includes the aforementioned medications as well as wound management, and ongoing assessment of their condition.

Stepping away from the clinical side, I am also in charge of a facility most times that I am on shift, with up to 20 staff members and all the fun stuff a large building deals with such as contractor management and maintenance. I am also the first contact for the resident and their family for most of their concerns or questions. I assist with the funding of my facility – really, our entire team do in some way, but it is usually the RN’s role to assess care needs and submit an application for funding to the government using the Aged Care Funding Instrument (or ACFI – a topic which is endlessly complicated and extraordinarily frustrating, and because of this, for discussion at a later date).

Of course, I also get to do the fun stuff. The resident is not a patient in the hospital sense of the word. They are basically living in a house with helpers around. That means that we get to deal with our residents on a much more personal level – we get to know them better than any patient on a hospital ward. There is a huge focus on social care as well as facilitating a resident to maintain usual lifestyle activities for as long as they are able.

What do I get out of aged care?

To be honest, I never wanted to work in a nursing home. I took my current job because I was desperate for work and had no other options available to me at the time.

But when I look back over the last two years, I am hard pressed to rank any of my previous jobs above the one I have. The bad moments are overwhelmed by the good in my workplace and I can see a very decent career lining up from it. I will endeavour to continue sharing my experiences with the world of aged care with you, hopefully in order to show you that aged care is a legitimate and rewarding career option for a nurse.

Welcome to my world.”

Brad graduated with a Bachelor of Nursing from the Queensland University of Technology in 2011. He also holds a Bachelor of Business, graduating in 2006 from Latrobe University.

Brad completed a graduate nursing year at the Royal Darwin Hospital in the Northern Territory where he worked in Oncology, Neurology and the Emergency Department. Brad returned to Brisbane in 2013 where he commenced a career in Aged Care Nursing.

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