Jenny also maintains that anyone working can do this role and upskill as long as their ‘heart is fully in it.’ Being a Community Worker is more than just a job.
Jenny began her career with Catholic Healthcare in 1988. At the time she was a Personal Carer with St Vincent De Paul Hostel. Eighteen years ago, the Hostel transferred to Catholic Healthcare and was named St John’s Villa in New Lambton. “I enjoyed supporting residents to live an enriched and meaningful life,” says Jenny.
Before working at the Hostel, being an Enrolled Nurse, Jenny’s primary role included nursing, mainly in theatre and obstetrics, in general hospitals at Narrabri, Boggabri and Gunnedah, and in Stockton Mental Hospital. Jenny also has training in wound care, dementia and Alzheimer's disease.
Jenny worked at the Hostel for 27 years. During her time there, Jenny became a Team Leader for nine years and had the responsibility on weekends for 45 clients and four staff members on the morning shifts. She also assisted with Aged Care Funding Instrument assessments when required.
After a short break, Jenny re-joined Catholic Healthcare as a Community Worker. She decided a change from the nursing home side of residential aged care was needed and was keen to do something different, so went into community work. Jenny has been a Community Worker for five years and enjoys her role.
“It’s a rewarding career”, says Jenny. “I am passionate about enriching a client’s life and improving their health and wellbeing. I love to see how a client appreciates what I do for them, to see their happiness and laughter, to see how the family responds towards the care that I give. Giving and caring brings me great joy. If there is something I can do to enhance a client’s life, I do it,” she adds.
Jenny reflects on a client she had taken care of recently, who passed away from cancer. “I had the privilege of taking care of a lady who was very ill. I had the privilege of teaching her daughter how to take care of her mum while she was bed-ridden before dying last week. I received a beautiful message from her granddaughter, which brought tears to my eyes. It’s worth it. Every day is different. There are good days, and there are tough days. It all comes down to your attitude. That’s the secret that keeps me going,” says Jenny.
Jenny also takes clients out shopping and drives them to their appointments, but the environment is challenging right now, and clients don’t want to go out as much. Jenny helps her clients get through this uncertain time.
Jenny is grateful to Catholic Healthcare for the support she is receiving. “It’s important to know that your Care Advisor is there for you if you have any issues that need resolving. I have one of the best Care Advisors, Linda Pyke. She is always there for me no matter what, and that is comforting and reassuring,” says Jenny.
Catholic Healthcare Care Advisors match Community Workers with clients to suit their personality and needs. Care Advisors give support and helpful feedback to Community Workers so they are working within their scope of practice while following policies and procedures. This maintains balance for both the client and Community Worker.
Jenny has sound advice for someone looking for a role as a Community Worker. “Anyone working can do this role and upskill,” says Jenny. Catholic Healthcare invests in staff training and provides ongoing support. The greatest thing is to make sure you want to do it. Your heart has to be fully in it. It’s not just a job. You must have compassion and be able to walk into a situation with the ability to help. You must also remember that this role is an absolute privilege. It is a privilege to have a vocation, and it is a privilege to work for Catholic Healthcare. It’s an absolute privilege to walk into a client’s house. It’s their house; you ask before you enter. You respect the client, and you respect their house,” she adds.
If you are interested in joining Catholic Healthcare’s Home and Community Services team, please go to www.catholichealthcare.com.au/careers
Pictured is Jenny with client Henry.