Sage Institute of Aged Care – Sage student story competition winner, Sally!

Sally walker - Sage Institute of Aged CareAt our latest Careers and Recruitment Expo, Sage students were asked to share their stories for a chance to win tickets to be in the audience of the AFL Footy Show and The Project. The submissions were assessed and the four most interesting and inspiring stories received not just the tickets, but also a glimpse of fame with their stories published on the relevant Sage Institute blog page!

One of winners is Sage Institute of Aged Care student, Sally Walker. We asked Sally some questions about her background, her interests and what motivated her to want to work with the elderly. Here are her answers…

1. What is it that motivated you to undertake a training course in Aged Care?
Initially I would hear the Sage ad’s on the radio. I was working in finance and always had aged care training in the back of my mind. I have a Bachelor of Business, but I had been wanting a career change. I did dabble in retail for a while and when I finished a maternity leave cover position, I was contemplating going back in to the finance world.

But there was this thing in the back of my mind – what about aged care? It was just an idea, so I went to see a volunteer organisation that helped arrange a volunteer position for me. It’s called Bundoora Extended Care and it’s aimed at older people still living in the community, but who have been assessed as high care, like a day respite program. It is run two days a week and consists mainly of lifestyle and leisure programs. This is what I help with.

I started doing this before I enrolled with Sage just make sure that it is what I wanted to do. When I started volunteering on the first day, I walked in and I just felt warm from the word go. And I thought, “I can just see myself here”, and “yes, I think this is for me”.

2. What do you want to do when you have finished the course?
Probably work in a Personal Care Assistant role, but I’m not sure yet if I would want to work in home care or in a facility. I do like home care because it keeps people independent and living at home – this appeals to me. I haven’t done placement in a residential care facility though, so I haven’t really experienced that yet. Thinking ahead, I might also keep studying and go into nursing but first I would definitely like to get some work experience in aged care.

3. What aspects of studying at Sage do you enjoy the most?
I really enjoy the group that we are in and the fact that we get to do a variety of activities related to aged care. This afternoon for example, we were doing a trial “pamper” session. One of the guys was on his placement and had a resident who wanted him to put her makeup on…He practiced on one of the girls in the class because he hadn’t done that before. We all pulled out the nail polish, and got to practice on someone else.

My hands were shaking a bit, doing someone else’s nails! It puts you on the spot, not nervous, but out of your comfort zone to do it for someone else. It’s really fun to do different things like that…

The course subject matter is very interesting and varied and the practical work is very helpful. We get experience using the lifting machinery for example.

“It’s hard when you go on placement with so much to learn, so it’s great to fall back on experience you have already had in class.”

4. What are some of the biggest learning challenges you’ve come across during your course?
The volume of work is quite significant, which is one of the first challenges that I experienced. Sometimes when you hear the stories of the practical placement and the workload it can be a little overwhelming. You might think, “Am I going to be able to do this?”

We simulate the personal care aspects of the job, which is a big part, as much as we can but there are some things, like showering somebody that you can’t really do in the classroom. But these are things you really need to be able to do. This challenges you to wonder whether you can really do this, but obviously you need to! It doesn’t bother me that much. It’s like anything new – it just pushes you out of your comfort zone at first.

5. What do you enjoy most about working with the elderly?
I think older people are easier to bond with. In my volunteering experience, the most enjoyable parts are just speaking to and interacting with my clients. I really feel like I’m making a difference, especially when they are happy to see me.

I have the same clients each week and I run the footy tipping. We copy the forms and help the participants choose the teams and tick the boxes. Some of them have early stage dementia, so you might have to explain the same things each week. You take a deep breath and take your time. It takes a lot of patience but it is also very rewarding.

6. What advice would you give a new student commencing their course at Sage?
I would definitely tell them to attend class regularly. A lot of students don’t attend enough and I can see that they might have difficulty down the track. You really need to consider whether you are committed, because you will struggle if you’re not.

It is fairly intensive and there are not many breaks so you need to be prepared and think about it. Even though it is only two days a week, it’s a full time course and you need to be committed, because the amount of hours you have to put in really makes it full time.

“I would also recommend that students do some volunteer work with the elderly before enrolling to give them some experience and see if it suits them.”

Sally Walker advice

Sally (second from left) with a colleague, Jo Kapaur, and some of her happy clients (left to right): Pam Cooper, Nita Jeffkins and Margaret Brindle.

7. Tell us about your hobbies.
I like to go the gym and recently my sister and I have started jogging. It’s good to have someone to go with! Apart from that, I like to read – usually novels and I like to knit, which is something that I have in common with some of my elderly clients.

I also enjoy watching ballroom dancing. This is another thing that is useful for working with the elderly, as learning something like ballroom dancing is great for keeping the mind active and as a preventative strategy for diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s.

8. Tell us something special about you that most people might not know…
I was an accountant for 10 years before starting the Aged Care course at Sage.

9. If you had to donate $100 to any charity in the world, which one would it be?
This is a hard one. I always liked charities that are supporting animals. The RSPCA is a good one. I also like the Salvation Army as they are out there doing really good things in the community.

10. Who provides you with inspiration, and why?
I would say my Mum, actually – she is like my best friend. I want to become more like as her she always puts herself out there and has a go at things. She does a lot of charity work, including a music education program for smaller children called “Mainly Music”. She’s not really a singer (she used to be a teacher) but she leads the children through a program of singing and actions that’s really great for them. She just has a presence about her…

Sage Institute of Aged Care – it’s more than a job, it’s a rewarding career.

Vicki Richardson

Vicki Richardson

Vicki Richardson is both the Director of Human Resources and the Director of Advertising and Marketing at Sage. On a daily basis, she oversees and directs a large team of employees, plans and devises all advertising and marketing campaigns, manages Brand Ambassadors and develops and manages B2B relationships with industry partners. Vicki lists helping Sage Institute become the number one educator in the fitness, massage, child-care and aged-care fields, as her biggest achievement. She is thrilled to see Sage graduates go on to be successful in their chosen careers.
Vicki Richardson

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