May 12 is International Nurses Day.
It's an opportunity to celebrate the compassion, expertise and humility of all nurses.
On International Nurses Day we thank the incredible nurses who care for residents at Ryman Healthcare villages.
We spoke with Raelene Boyle Retirement Village Unit Coordinator Maji Joseph about the immense satisfaction she gets from being an aged care nurse.
Raelene Boyle Retirement Village Unit Coordinator Maji Joseph has never forgotten her first patient.
Because, while many nurses can recall the first person they cared for, Maji’s was not only her patient, but her father.
“I grew up in Kerala, in India and after completing three and a half years of nursing education, but before doing my internship/graduate year, my father, K.V George, was diagnosed with lung cancer,” she said.
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Maji took a break from her internship to care for her father fulltime.
“Treatment options were very limited and too expensive for cancer,” she said.
With the closest treatment centre six hours from where they lived and strong pain relief too costly and difficult to find, Maji nursed her father while he received radiotherapy.
He died three months after being diagnosed.
“It was heart-breaking to see him in pain,” she said.
Maji's father, K.V George.
Later, she found out about a government run organisation which provided free pain medication.
"Even though it was a bit late, I'm glad that I found these options and was able to communicate this to so many others suffering from cancer," she said.
When Maji immigrated to Australia in 2012 she planned to work in acute hospital nursing, however while waiting for her Australian nursing registration she worked as an aged care giver.
“The job satisfaction from looking after people in aged care led me to stay in the sector,” she said.
“Being an aged care nurse is extremely rewarding because you become a part of the resident’s life and help them with their quality of life.
“The appreciations I receive, the smiles on faces and comfort residents get from my care, made me choose to continue to work in aged care.”
Fast forward 11 years and Maji is the Serviced Apartment Unit Coordinator at Ryman’s Raelene Boyle village.
“Every day in my role is different and comes with different challenges and experiences,” she said.
“It is widely variable from providing urgent assistance, to sitting and having a chat with a resident.”
While Maji’s role includes key clinical components including medication management, specialist referrals, home care package management and leading the serviced apartment team, spending one-on-one time with residents can often be the best form of care.
“Loneliness can be very common in older people,” she said.
“I have heard so many varied and interesting stories from residents.
“Stories of love, family, courage, and despair.
“I actively listen, because these conversations with residents help build trust, and just having a chat can be invaluable.”
Her compassion and care for residents extends to their families.
“It is often not easy for someone to put their loved one in care,” she said.
“I’ve seen a mixture of relief, guilt, sadness, and worry.
“Providing reassurance and support to the family is so important as well.”
Ryman Healthcare’s ethos of providing care ‘good enough for mum and dad’ is particularly poignant for Maji.
“I endeavor to make my father proud every day by doing everything possible to make my residents feel comfort from my care,” she said.