Sage Human Resources and Marketing Director, Vicki Richardson, shares her personal story regarding her mother’s aged care journey and tells us why she’s so passionate about turning the industry on its head…
“I can’t believe my children did this to me” are words that no daughter wants to hear when putting a parent into care. Preconceived ideas of aged care, poor reputations stemming from unscrupulous practices and a fear of the unknown can all taint this sensitive transition. But it needn’t be like this.
Vicki Richardson’s mother, Joy Byrne, experienced various levels of care throughout the last ten years of her life: some good, some not so good. Vicki’s personal experiences with Joy’s aged care journey have fuelled her desire to transform the industry, and guided her judgement when choosing the detailed and highly reputable course curriculum delivered at Sage Institute of Aged Care.
Putting a parent into care happens without a choice for some, particularly when faced with serious illness. For others, the decision can be heart-wrenching, filled with guilt, fear and uncertainty. For Vicki, her sister, brother and mother, it was different again; the transition to care came about through a gentle, natural progression.
“Mum was in nursing homes ever since her early eighties, both in low care and high care for several years. When Dad died, she was in the retirement home they had both lived in. Soon, she started to lose mobility and was getting about with the use of a walker. Things were getting a little trickier. My brother and sister didn’t have the capabilities to look after her full-time and I was working full-time. I have a two storey house which was no good – and she would have been alone all day. So we made a decision together with Mum that she would move into low level care.”
“I can’t believe my children did this to me…”
“We all inspected the place together, she was happy with the facilities, and she appeared happy with the decision. But she would do all those distressing things that children would do when you first start using child care – cry when you leave – and worse – say things like “I can’t believe my children did this to me…”
Emotions like these are painfully hard to deal with – for both parent and offspring. Vicki notes that the staff were very supportive during the transition. “They reassured us and told us not to worry. But it was difficult…”
“One time my sister and I were both sitting in the car park, crying our eyes out after having just left her. Then, we went back inside for some reason, only to find Mum happy as Larry, busy having a cup of tea with someone…”
Low level care was a success for Vicki’s mum. She was well looked after; she interacted with other residents during the week, had her hair done once a week, went to Physio, did gentle exercises, went on outings and had lots of company.
“I’d visit a couple of times a week, as would my brother and sister. The carers there were very nice. In fact, she got very well while she was there, eating three meals a day… She even put on weight.”
Soon, though, Joy had to be classed as a high care resident even though the facility was predominantly suited to low care. The centre could only do so much, and costs for special treatment went up. This was a time when Vicki, her sister and brother first noticed the huge importance of quality personal care attendants. For example, watching inexperienced personal care attendants use a hoist to help her mother use the toilet would become a challenge – which sometimes morphed into a distressing drama.
When things like using the lifting machine went wrong, it hit home to Vicki just how important it was for aged care staff to be really well trained and skilled.
“This is why at Sage, we stress that students need to learn the techniques properly if they want to work in this profession. Poorly trained staff can hurt people. That’s why I find it so distressing that there are such short courses available elsewhere in the market. At 10 months, our Sage Aged Care programs are some of the longest in the industry.…“
Vicki’s mother later went into a high care facility, which was another emotional hurdle to jump, but she soon settled in and received excellent care from the staff. At the age of 90, Joy eventually died in care.
“It horrifies me – horrifies me. That’s why we’ve made sure our course content is based on best industry practice with a minimum of 120 hours of practical hands-on learning. We want the highest possible standards available. We want to make sure the best people are out there. We want to change the industry.”
When Vicki is asked about her feelings on people taking short aged care courses, some for only a couple of months, for $500 and then immediately taking up positions as an aged care professional, she says, “It horrifies me – horrifies me. That’s why we’ve made sure our course content is based on best industry practice with a minimum of 120 hours of practical hands-on learning. We want the highest possible standards available. We want to make sure the best people are out there. We want to change the industry.”
“We owe it to our older citizens to give them the very best that we’ve got”
“With Sage, each student has to complete a minimum 100 hours work experience before they complete their course. These people have spent all their lives working and paying taxes, some of them have fought in wars… They deserve the highest standards. They deserve to be well looked after. We want to change the way employers recruit. We want them to be far more discerning. We want to see government regulation. We owe it to our older citizens to give them the very best that we’ve got.”
Sage Institute of Aged Care – it’s more than a job, it’s a rewarding career.
Latest posts by Vicki Richardson (see all)
- Uniting forces: Sage Institute of Education sponsors Melbourne United - August 31, 2016
- Raising standards: let’s give them the best we’ve got. - August 30, 2016
- Sage Institute of Aged Care – Sage student story competition winner, Sally! - July 31, 2016