Like it or not you are ageing. Don’t fret; we all are, even since you started reading this blog. Living to see the twilight years is a reality not everyone is privileged to experience, but as an Australian we have the good fortune to live in one of the best places in the world to do so. We not only have a world-class care system
in place for ageing adults, but we have plans to further improve that system nationwide. Not only is this a great time to enjoy the new normal as an active ageing adult, it’s an equally exciting time to work in the aged care field.
It takes a special kind of person to be an aged care nurse. Kindness, compassion, and caring are just a few key qualities of aged care nurses. They often work long hours and form special bonds with the people in their care. Even though there are plenty of rewards, there’s not much glory in the work. There are no TV shows based on aged care nursing, like with ER nurses. That said, aged care nurses are integral to healthcare.
Think: partnership. Together with your loved one, aged care nurses make up a vital half to an effective team requiring patience, understanding, and endurance by all involved. While the nurse is working hard to be the extension of their ageing counterparts, your loved one is working hard to accept the realities of their changing lifestyle. It’s more like good cinema than night-time drama.
This week we celebrate our aged care nurses and the ageing Aussies they assist. It’s not an easy job… for either of them! We've put together a short list of a few things you can do to support your favourite team…
Visit Your Loved Ones
Like with any partnership, aged care nurses often spend more time with our loved ones than we do. That doesn’t mean they don’t both enjoy when you visit (so long as you’re not a nuisance, but we’ll come back to that). By visiting family members in care, and spending time with them it frees up the nurses to focus on the more technical aspects of their job; parts that may be easier with undivided attention.
If distance or time is a challenge for you, pick up the phone or try to video chat. Your loved one will really appreciate hearing from or seeing you, and it is a well-known fact that positive communication with family and loved ones boosts mood and improves mental health.
This is also a good time to respectfully check in with the nurse and see if there is anything that you can do. It helps some to imagine the nurse functioning as an extension of your loved one, remembering things that may have slipped or suggesting things that might make life easier (slippers, pictures, and other tools). Jealous? You may start to wish you had someone around to act as an extension of yourself and help you remember things.
Allow Them to do Their job
A.K.A. How to avoid being the aforementioned “nuisance”. It’s highly likely that while you are visiting your loved one, the aged care nurse is doing their rounds. This may involve brief periods where they require the attention of your loved one, and may give you a chance to help out. Hang back and be ready.
Think of it like when you were younger, on take your kids to work day, which is fitting as we are likely talking about your ageing parent. The nurse is aware you expect some attention when the time is right. Be proactive and let the nurse know right away, “I would love to chat when you have time,” or equally, “Don’t let me interrupt you unless you want to chat.”
Aged care nurses are proficiency experts. What you see them doing they do over and over every day, and while it may appear mechanical, that’s because they’re pros at it. It is unproductive to their partnership with your loved one if you get in the way or ask the nurse to alter the schedule to come back later. In the unlikely event that you don’t feel like the nurse has the best of intentions, then you have a totally different situation on your hands, the solution for which will likely be solved in another room with an administrator.
In many cases, aged care nurses follow patients from the time they enter the residence or home-stay program, until the time they inevitably leave. They’re there through the highs and the lows, holding your loved one’s hand, providing companionship, caring for them, and being their pillar of support. It really means a lot when visitors, friends and family members take a moment to thank the nurse who has been looking after a loved one.
Just being conscious of these points is enough, but if you choose to show your gratitude with money, make sure to make it conservative. Know the policy of the facility before buying any gifts. Many nurses are not allowed to accept gifts, especially cash, but most will allow something small and fun. Here're three things you could bring for your loved one’s nurse:
Anything is great, but something you make will be worth its weight in gold.
Nurses covet pens. Make it a special one and they will guard it with their lives.
All day on your feet and these wear out like racecar tires.
Rally for Better Working Conditions, Incentives, and Reforms
Aged care nurses are in demand. With people living longer and fewer babies being born aged care is a major growth industry. Traditionally wages for aged care nurses have been lower than nurses working in hospital settings and this has deterred some nurses from heading down the aged care pathway. To help support aged care workers and nurses who support ageing adults, we have to do everything we can to rally for better working conditions, incentives and reforms. Want more information on this? Click here