Meet Helen, Registered Nurse at St Louis Home Care
“I still use my nursing skills and make a difference to people’s lives in their home.”
Helen has worked in aged care for over twenty years. She spent thirteen years working at St Louis’ nursing home and then retired from working altogether for about a year. She missed her work with older people, and she still wanted to use her nursing skills. She returned as a registered nurse on our home care team, looking after older people in the community, where she has now been for four years.
Why did you choose a career in home care?
I like making a difference to people’s lives. I’ve worked in aged care for many years, and I enjoy helping older people in the community.
I enjoy being involved in my community and assisting my clients to remain living in their own home. I continue to use my nursing skills and I like visiting my clients in their own home environment and helping them improve the quality of their life day to day.
Older people have so much to give. I enjoy talking to them about their lives and their past, and its rewarding when I know I am supporting their quality of life and reminding them that they are still capable of many things. A lot of them feel they are not useful which isn’t true. We help them strive for and improve their independence. We work on goals together and make these goals achievable so that they gain confidence in themselves again. This is all done in partnership with themselves and their family. For example, if they want to start an exercise program to improve their fitness, we will create a program with measurable goals and together we track the progress as they work toward their fitness goals.
How does working in home care affect your work life balance?
I find that home care has flexible hours which helps me look after my family. I have my grandchildren living with me so I can help get them ready for school and pick them up when I need to. I’ve been able to work around my family commitments and I choose my days. I can start later or leave early. It’s pretty flexible.
People talk about "connection" and "one to one time" with clients - why has this become so important?
Many clients live alone and they can become isolated from their community. Whether the client has family around them or not, and some of them don’t, home care staff become like family members. I like that I can give them good old-fashioned care and plenty of one to one time, and St Louis allows us the time to do this with our clients. It’s such an important part of our job.
Recently I visited a client to do a home care review and as I was talking with her, I could see she was lonely. We discussed this and she told me that all her friends had passed away. Her daughter lived far away too. For her to know she could talk to her home carer made her feel at ease and she thanked me for taking the time to sit and chat. She also told me that no one calls her anymore, so I now make regular short calls to check in with her and see how she is. She really appreciates this.
This sort of companionship makes a huge difference to people’s lives. And I don’t do this because it’s my job, I do it because I really enjoy giving my clients what they need to be happier at home.
Why do you enjoy working at St Louis?
St Louis is a very supportive environment. Staff from the Nursing Home, Victor Harbor, and St Louis On Sea are all working together to support our clients, even though we all have different types of clients. Our staff endeavour to maintain a high standard of care and management is very supportive and focussed on quality care and services.
The management employ the correct mix of staff and expertise in all areas, so there are more than enough people to be able to properly prioritise a client’s needs and choices first and foremost. St Louis provide an excellent orientation process for new staff, and they are very welcoming to new staff which helps them get off to a good start.