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Picture: Supplied.

2021 LASA Excellence in Age Services winners announced

Leading Age Services Australia (LASA) has announced the winners of the 2021 Excellence in Age Care Services awards, recognising the organisations and individuals who provide exceptional care services across the country.

Emily Skeen, 36, won the NSW Rising Star Award after entering the industry as a casual registered nurse. Over the past three years, she has worked her way up to a care services manager role at Carrington Centennial Nursing Home in Grasmere, NSW. 

After decades working in the bustle of Liverpool’s ICU wards as an intensive care and anaesthetic nurse, she said she sought work in the industry to allow more time with her four children. 

“To be honest, I thought that working in aged care would be easy,” she said.

“I realised then very quickly that my views were incorrect.

“This is probably one of the hardest jobs I've ever done.”

Witnessing the sweeping changes brought by the royal commission in her first years in the sector has been both a challenge and a blessing, she said.

“I feel like the whole concept of aged care has really changed.

“There is now a much greater need for us to be clinically based as well as delivering that person-centred style of care.

“It’s a hard balance to find.”

Emily (pictured left) said that her career aged care has allowed her to embrace the time she has with her four children.  Picture: Supplied. 

Emily said she has used the skills and knowledge she developed in her nursing years to drive her passion for innovation. 

“I really feel that having walked the walk in that registered nurses role, I had a very clear idea about what is needed to do the job appropriately.

“Having had that experience as a registered nurse created those solid foundations and some really great guidelines for me in order to run that team effectively.”

Her idea to overhaul her facility’s protocol around resident wound care was recognised by her coworkers in her LASA award nomination.

She said that by fully documenting the healing process of a resident's injury, collaboration and communication between different nurses and doctors has vastly improved.

“Now there's an expectation that we’re not just managing wounds, we’re trying to heal them.”

“That was something I was really proud of because it changed a process for us that became a universal one that we use across sites.”

In the future, Emily said she wants to embrace her role and continue supporting and leading her team.

One day, she said she can see herself as the director of nursing or the chief executive of her facility.

“Aged care is not for everyone, neither is ICU nursing; it’s a special kind of role.

“Forget what you think about it and give it a go because it’s something that grows with you.”

Janelle Veal, 50, took home the NSW Individual Award for her dedication to working in regional aged care facilities. 

After growing up on a property in regional NSW, Janelle began her 16-year-long career in aged care in Armidale, working in the sector through her early twenties.

She now works as the general manager at Roseneath Aged Care Centre in Glen Innes and oversees 75 people living in residential care.

The most rewarding aspect of working in regional healthcare, she said, is experiencing the togetherness felt among her residents, staff, families and the board. 

“I think country people take on challenges really easily and are more community minded,” she said.

“My favourite thing is seeing people that actually really care from the bottom of their heart, and it's not just lip service.”

Over the past few years, Janelle has been at the forefront of experiencing the upheaval of the industry during the royal commission.

“Every industry has people that should not be in that industry.

“​​I also think the failings of some things have actually highlighted the really good things that are also in aged care.

“My belief is everybody's trying, everybody, no matter whether you're regional, whether you're city, I believe everybody's trying to do the absolute best they can."

In the future, Janelle said she would like to see more emphasis on person-centred care, rather than on ticking boxes to meet requirements.

“There's nothing better than seeing my nurses, if they have time, sitting on somebody's bed or sitting in the chair in their room having a chat.

“The paperwork, the compliance, I believe we have to have it, but I also believe there needs to be more time for people just to sit.

“Because sometimes we're the only people some people have. We're it.”

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