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Engineer to caregiver: Russell’s journey is challenging stereotypes

Written by John Walker
on September 04, 2023

In a world where career choices are often defined by societal norms and conventional paths, Ryman Healthcare Personal Care Worker Russell Duffield stands out as a shining example of someone pursuing their passion and finding fulfilment in an unexpected place.

After Russell lost his job as an engineer, his transition into the world of aged care wasn't a traditional one, with a career change sparked by a desire to help his elderly neighbour.

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“I was an engineer and when I got retrenched from that my neighbour, who was an elderly lady, suggested ‘Russ, why don't you do aged care?’,” Russell said.

“I used to go do odd bits around her house, cut her grass and things like that.

“It’s a very rewarding job, I'm so happy she suggested it because I would never have thought about it.”Russell Duffield - Screengrab 2 Russell walks through Deborah Cheetham Retirement Village.

Deborah Cheetham Retirement Village, in Ocean Grove, recently opened its aged care centre and support services, creating dozens of new employment opportunities in the area.

After seeing the village advertised on Facebook, Russell couldn’t help but be in awe of the offering.

"I've done agency work previously and this place just stuck out. It was amazing and what it offered as well – just incredible."

“I mean, some days it doesn't really feel like work, I enjoy the interaction, so it makes work easier.”

Today, Russell cherishes the genuine connection he has with the residents, which makes interactions feel more like conversations with family members.

"It's so rewarding coming to work and communicating with them and hearing what they've been through, I love it," Russell said.

"I always had a close bond with my grandparents, it's like having your grandparents all over again."

Video: Russell shares his journey to becoming a personal care worker.

Despite there being so few men in aged care roles, Russell believes the work is a fulfilling path for everyone, regardless of gender.

His own sons’ hesitation about his career choice only strengthened his resolve to break stereotypes and inspire others.

“I think it's just the way we are brought up because they think, oh, it's not a manly job,” Russell said.

“When I spoke about it with my sons, they looked at me like, ‘why do want to do that?’.

“I would tell [men considering aged care work] to go for it because of the reward at the end of the day, the bond you make with these elderly residents is amazing.”

With a lot of the staff being new to the village, Russell believes the rewarding nature of the job is playing a big part in the positive energy among the team.

"This is definitely an awesome team culture, and we have great bonds already.

“In any job you will find rewards, but I find this the most rewarding, I go home happy at the end of the day.

“Lots of the residents when you do things for them are very appreciative of what you've done.

“At the end of the day you go home and you know you've made a difference.”

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