Despite a 15-year care career, Anglicare Care Team Manager Susan Hynes still gets excited when her home care staff share stories of an elderly person finding independence through their work.
“The little breakthrough moments where you see a tangible difference in someone’s life through care are so fulfilling. Some of the stories our care staff share are amazing – clients with dementia who are becoming non-verbal but have been able to connect through music, or who experience a moment of joy from a swim.”
Commencing work as a care worker at age 18 while studying at university, a career in care was not something Hynes originally set out to do.
“My degree was in Communications and English. I worked as a care worker while I was studying and I just really enjoyed it – the interactions with different clients, the flexibility in work hours and the ability to bring positive change into someone’s life. I looked at what more I could do in care, took up various care roles and eventually moved into care management.”
Today, Hynes is responsible for overseeing a growing team of more than 200 home care workers who provide vital help to elderly people through a range of services, including shopping, personal care, social support, meal preparation and general help around the home. She has been instrumental in helping to cultivate a supportive working environment that incorporates opportunities for accredited care qualifications, ongoing paid training and regular check-ins with staff.
“Collaboration and support is a big part of our culture. Our home care workers have a call with their team leaders each week and they also meet face-to-face once a month at a café or out in the community. They get together, have a cup of coffee and just chat about how things are going and where they might need some extra support.”
With Australia’s ageing population set to increase rapidly over the next decade, training a new generation of care workers to meet growing demand for care services is an important focus for Hynes.
“We have a strong emphasis on learning and professional development and provide our care staff with pathways to obtain qualifications in aged care. We have workplace trainers who visit care staff out in the field. We have that expectation that you’re not going to stop learning once you move into a role as a care worker.”
In addition to a desire to learn, Hynes says the ability to empathise with others is paramount to succeeding as a care worker. “Having a genuine care for other people and the ability to work collaboratively is important. Aside from the domestic services our home care workers provide, a big part of what they do is provide emotional support for clients and that could be in anything, from a personal care service to a transport service.
“We like for all care staff to have some regular clients because they really do build that relationship up over time and I think that for clients, they’ve got somebody they can trust and talk to.”
For Hynes, a rewarding career moment came during a regular care service for a client.
“I was caring for an elderly lady with dementia who lived right on the coast near one of those ocean pools. We’d gone out for a walk and she said, ‘you know what, I’d like to go for a swim’. She kept talking about it, so we checked with her daughter, got organised and went down to the baths. When we arrived at the baths, my client belly-busted into the water and we had a ball. Swimming was something she’d obviously done throughout her life and it came back to her that day. I could almost see what she looked like as a younger person. Being able to tap into that with somebody, to really help them experience joy, that’s the best feeling in the world.”
Anglicare’s Care Team manager Susan Hynes will be presenting a live Q&A about joining Anglicare’s Care Worker Team on Northern Beaches Mum’s Facebook page, on Wednesday 23rd of June from 8pm – 9pm.