“Working in Aged Care is all about rapport with people,” says Jill Gaffney. (centre in the photo) “I had a grandmother living with me when I was growing up. That’s what got me into aged care. She suggested that if I wanted to work in an aged home it would be a good thing if I tried to get a job in one to see if I liked it at all. I was only 14 but I got a job in the kitchen. Then from there I moved onto the floor and finally into managing aged care facilities. I’ve worked in Queensland, South Australia, up in the Kimberly and the Gulf of Carpentaria. I’m 62 now and I’ve been in aged care for 48 years. I just love it. I love it as much as the day I started. It’s because of the rapport you build with people. I’ve learnt so much from the residents. They’ve taught me how to knit, how to sew, lots of life skills and experiences. I’m still learning from them.”

“One of the things that you learn in this job is that dying is something that we need to embrace. It is a natural part of life. Often it can be very beautiful. The family and staff all get involved. I find I’m more able to cope with it now than I could years ago.”

“It’s a specialty, Aged Care. To me it’s something you’ve got to have a passion for. But it’s also a career path that can take you anywhere. It’s taken me all over the world. I used to manage a Jewish facility on

the Gold Coast and that took me to Israel to work for them!”

With families often dispersed across Australia and overseas, it can be difficult to care for our love ones as we might wish. When selecting a care facility for our parents, a difficult decision that many families have to face, we often look to the buildings and facilities as the gold standard of good care. And while environment definitely does matter, it is the quality of the relationships with these aged care workers which will make the real difference to our elder’s lives.