August 7 is Aged Care Employee Day.
It's an opportunity to acknowledge and celebrate the outstanding care our team members provide, and the special bonds they form with residents.
With COVID-19 still impacting the lives of older people and aged care staff, the day is also about recognising the immense sacrifices being made to keep our most vulnerable safe.
We speak with Weary Dunlop Retirement Village housekeeper Ralph Wang about how his job changed everything.
For Ralph Wang 2020 started with immense sacrifice and loss.
But, it ended in triumph.
With flights abroad halted by COVID-19, the travel agent business Ralph had spent years growing was forced to close.
At the same time, he was riddled with anxiety as his family in China did their best to stay safe from the outbreak devastating the country.
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“Last year started as a really terrible year for me,” he says.
“I moved to Australia 13 years ago, so I could have got JobKeeper, but I didn’t feel good about taking money from the Government.
“I’ve always liked to work.”
Ralph’s fortune changed when he began a job as a housekeeper at Weary Dunlop, cleaning ‘high-touchpoint’ areas to ensure the virus was kept out of the village.
“I was so pleased and relieved when I was offered the job, it was amazing,” he says.
Late last year Ralph showed his gratitude and dedication to Ryman residents when he moved into the village for two months.
“I moved into the village because at the time I had two housemates who were working at a factory that had a COVID-19 outbreak of about 200 cases,” he says.
“I’m not a selfish person, and the risk to myself and my residents was too great, so it was an easy decision to move in.”
Weary Dunlop team members attend a thank you event organised by residents following the first lockdown.
Ralph says living onsite fast-tracked his relationships with team members and residents.
“I really, really liked living there,” he says.
“The residents were so appreciative, and I went from being shy when I first started, to having chats with lots of people.
“Living there I also learnt more about Australian culture and how important family is. We are like a big family here.”
When Ryman’s initiative to have vulnerable staff live at villages made the evening news, Ralph was full of pride.
“I just felt so good, I was one of those people!” he says.
With international travel paused for the foreseeable future, he plans to develop a career in aged care.
“I have got so many great opportunities at Ryman to improve myself and offer even better care,” Ralph says.
“The future is much brighter now.”