Janine Cowling believes a personal touch makes all the difference for aged care residents.
Janine, who recently celebrated 30 years nursing at Stella Anderson Nursing Home, said it can be hard for residents to make the transition from independent living to a community setting.
“I want to be an advocate for our residents and make sure they’re living their best lives while in care,” she said.
In between her nursing duties, Janine enjoys creating connections with the residents, whether that’s sitting down for a chat or completing jigsaw puzzles. Janine can also be found dropping in on a movie or two with resident Robert Wooster, who’s established quite the collection in the past year.
Taking the residents out to the garden beds also brings great joy to Janine.
“It’s lovely being able to help residents harvest a handful of fresh strawberries or tomatoes, or taking them out to enjoy the native flowers,” she said.
Growing up, Janine knew she would one day make a career out of caring for others.
“When I was a girl, my great uncle was in care at Anne Caudle. I remember visiting the wards and talking to the other residents,” she said.
“There was this one lady in particular who had suffered a stroke. She would knit and make teddy bears and dolls in the activities room. I was amazed by what was possible for her and decided [nursing] was what I wanted to do.”
While there have been a lot of changes to nursing in her time – “it was very strict” when she started – Janine said a person-centred approach and maintaining strong relationships are key to being a long-term staff member.
It’s an approach she hopes to pass on to new nurses coming into aged care.
“I like to teach the younger nurses to take a compassionate approach. I want to show them that nursing is more than ‘just a job’,” she said.
And that’s exactly what nursing has been for Janine.
“There’s a lot of other things I could have been doing. But when I meet the families and they see we genuinely care for their loved ones, knowing they have that trust, is why I’ve stayed.”
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