How Lisha Wellington found her calling as a home care assistant

Infographic with 3 images. 1.A person in a wheelchair being pushed by someone else with the text "An opportunity to care". 2 Two cupped hands with the text "Finding purpose in caring". 3 A diploma with the text "An opportunity to get qualified"

How Lisha Wellington became a home care assistant, and why she loves it.

What it's like being a home care assistant

How did you become a home care assistant at a rest home?

“I walked in off the street to apply for a cleaning job, and they asked if I was interested in caregiving.

"I had no experience whatsoever with the elderly, but I walked around the place, saw the awesome team, and thought, ‘Maybe I could do something like this.’ ”

How busy is each shift and how do you manage that?

“I have 35 residents to look after. I have to make sure I follow the care plan for each resident – a lot can change in a week and they can deteriorate.

“First I check in with each resident. If I’m on afternoon shift I may say, ‘How are you feeling?'

"I make a plan with them and I give them a timeframe for when I’ll come back – before the news, or after the news. Then I see them in order, but I’m also there for them throughout the day if they need help. I say, ‘I’m just a jingle away – ring the bell for assistance.’ ”

How did you find your Level 4 certificate training?

“There were a few of us doing the New Zealand Certificate in Health and Wellbeing (Advanced Support) course. We supported one another. We’ve got a great team – I love my co-workers.

“My certificate has helped heaps. I put a lot more detail in my notes now about the care I’ve given.

“I did find some things hard. I had to answer questions like, ‘How did I manage myself in a situation?’ – such as with dementia.

“I had always thought of strategies, or I’d go to our registered nurse and ask for suggestions, but I wasn’t used to thinking about myself in the role.”

The pros and cons of the role

What’s difficult about your job?

“You’ve got to learn to manage aggressive behaviour – with dementia people may swear at you, or threaten you.

“Sometimes I take things to heart. I know they don’t mean what they are saying but I’ve had a few tears at times. I’ve gone out, taken a big breath and thought, ‘You can do this Lish, don’t take it to heart.’ ”

How do you cope with the death of residents?

“That happens quite often. If I’m on board and they’ve passed away, I get my co-worker to come in and help me freshen them up before the undertaker comes.

“I usually pay my respects first. I have a breather at the door, a quiet moment, a minute’s silence. I may have a few tears. I’m sad that they’re gone but I know they’re at peace – they’re not suffering.

“For a couple of residents I’ve been there, holding their hand, supporting the family. It’s harder watching the family suffer. Relating to the family – supporting them – is part of the job, especially when caring for people at the end of their life.”

What gives you satisfaction in your job?

“The elderly. I have had problems during my life but as soon as I walk through the door, everything changes. I’m there for a purpose – for them.

“From day one I’ve loved it. I wish I’d done it in my younger years, because I’ve found something I really enjoy doing. The five years I’ve been here – they have been such a blessing.

"I'm proud to be a care giver."

Find out more

Updated 2 Dec 2019