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VICKI'S STORY: A day in the life of a nursing director

Bethesda Caring Centre nursing director Vicki Lea and two of her important support team members, Charlie Brown and Rudie.
Bethesda Caring Centre nursing director Vicki Lea and two of her important support team members, Charlie Brown and Rudie.

PASSION and commitment are welcome job requirements for nursing director Vicki Lea.

She works long hours, but so she notes, does her team of 80 staff.

They are responsible for 69 residents at Wesley Mission Queensland's Bethesda Caring Centre in Corinda, Brisbane.

Twenty-four hours a day Vicki stays contactable.

"My function is to coordinate people and coordinate care," Vicki said.

Or, as others call it; she COPEs, that is, she coordinates other people's expertise.

"Even though I come from a nursing background, which is highly beneficial to my role, I do coordinate the experts, their time and their interactions with residents," she added.

Her days starts early with a first check of her emails and a cup of tea.

It's then on to checking her schedule and planning appointments for the day ahead.

"No two days are the same, so there is a lot of variety in my role," Vicki said.

On site she is quick to drop in on the residents to wish them a good morning and then to chat with the nursing and administration staff.

Because there are no longer classifications within aged care, Vicki and her team deal with a broad range of resident needs.

To deal with this, they focus on building strong relationships with the residents and their families.

"They are here to live their lives so we focus on person-centred and relationship-centred care," Vicki said.

"Their social and emotional support and interaction is a really important part of our care."

She also spends a lot of time with families, supporting them and helping to improve their understanding of the aged care reforms.

And through email Vicki shares special resident's moments with families.

"It's another great open line of communication between residents, staff and families, and I use it a lot," Vicki said.

With her door open whenever possible during the day, Vicki enjoys hearing from her clinicians and carers not only about care issues, but also about stories and events that are important

to the residents.

With 69 personalities to monitor there are always delightful days for Vicki to recount.

"The other week one of our residents turned 100," she said.

He didn't want a big party, so they had a quiet day with balloons and a card.

Vicki received a lovely note afterwards thanking her and her staff for making him feel like a king.

"I had one lady recently shed tears of joy because we bought a chair that comes within the regulations of Queensland Transport which means she can now go out," Vicki said.

"She hasn't been able to go out for years because she requires a very special wheelchair which can go into a maxi-taxi or into a bus."

Then there was the wedding of a lady who had an acquired brain injury and had forgotten her wedding day.

Vicki rounded up her staff and organised another wedding this time in the grounds of Bethesda with all the trimmings including bridesmaids and a bridal shower.

"We really try to go that extra mile to make their lives meaningful."

Not all her days are eight hours; sometimes the days are very long.

"But I can say that about my staff as well."

Vicki admits her role is highly demanding, but to be across the issues she said she needs "to have my fingers in the pie".

She has a husband who works for the same organisation, three children, the youngest of which has just left home and a garden that receives Vicki's loving attention on weekend.

As the sun sets, Vicki quietly admits her target finish time has slipped again.

"You go when the job is done," Vicki said.

"It's not data I am dealing with, it's human beings."

Topics:  aged care bethesda caring centre general-seniors-news health retirement-living wesley mission queensland


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