Caring in a compassionate and authentic way for our elderly who find themselves in the hospital wing of a residential aged care facility takes a special sort of person. INsite talks to KARLA GOUNDER, a healthcare assistant at Enliven’s Woburn Home in Lower Hutt.
For you personally, what is the most important aspect of your work?
Karla: Making people happy. It’s all about making the residents smile. I love to have a laugh with them and I will pretty much do what they want to do based on how they are feeling that day. If they are in a good mood and want to have a dance, I dance with them. I love talking to them about what they used to do in their lives and hearing their stories. I treat all the residents like they are my grandparents.
It’s also really important to remember that I’m not coming into a workplace – I am coming into their home to work.
How did you come to be in this job?
Karla: I used to do teacher aide work in a kindy but decided it wasn’t the route I wanted to take. So I went to the opposite end of the scale and started working with the elderly. I did a training course through the Salvation Army, who then connected me with Enliven. I have worked here for two years now and have just completed more training and am also working towards becoming a workplace observer.
Tell us more about the training and the difference it makes in your work?
Karla: I’ve just completed the New Zealand Certificate in Health and Wellbeing in Health Assistance (L3). This was done with the support of Careerforce and it’s really reinforced everything that I had previously learnt or done. I love to stay fresh and up-to-date with what’s going on and through this training I have been able to better myself. It’s made me better at my job and it puts everything nicely into its place. I am a lot more aware of what a resident is capable of doing and what they can’t do, and how I can best support them.
I have a lot of confidence in everything I do now, and when the families of the people I care for come and praise me, I know that I am doing great. I feel that I’m exactly where I’m meant to be.
I’ve also been invited to train to become a REAL Observer and have done some training around this. I’m looking forward to helping others complete their training.
What do you love about your job?
Karla: I just love to care for people and make them happy. Having a good time is the key and I work with a great crew.
But what I really love is that two of my children now volunteer here at the home. They are eight and 14 and spend a few hours a week here with the residents, taking them for walks in their wheelchairs or just doing things with them. The kids learn so much empathy and respect from this.