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Amanda Caruana

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We were young and beautiful

We all age, yet the impact of aged care work often goes unrecognised. Nurse Amanda Caruana, Clinical Manager at Bupa Templestowe, is working to change that – and says it’s an enormous privilege working with people in their final years of life. Photographer Emma Phillips followed Amanda through her day at work.

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“There is stigma that comes with working in aged care. A person once told me, ‘What a waste of a nurse you are in aged care.’ We need to change the perception of care homes and ensure that the community understands how important it is to them that we have skilled, passionate, authentic nurses in our homes.

Aged care is specialised nursing in its own right. You need to have skills to be able to care for palliative residents and their grieving families, manage staff and mentor, case review and identify clinical indicators and much more.”

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“I believe it is a privilege to work with our residents. Many of them have lived amazing lives, they were captains of ships, doctors, they were revolutionaries in medical research. They have entrusted us with their lives at their most vulnerable time of need.

We become their advocates, working together with their families to ensure that their final years are as memorable as their lives were. It’s a responsibility I hold close to my heart.”

Amanda3

“I was caring for one of my residents in the last days of her life; she had been a resident of ours for some time. Her devoted husband never left her side. We ensured that he had three meals a day, offered him a comfy bed to sleep and ensured he had everything he needed. I said to him, “You need to go home and have a shower and have some time to relax, we will be here as soon as you get back and I will call you if anything changes.”

He popped his hand on my shoulder, looked me straight in the eye and said, “I am so relieved that you are caring for my darling, I feel so comforted knowing that you are here with her.” What an honour that was for me that he trusted his most dear wife in my care with my team.”

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“We will all age. Hopefully when my time comes I will have an amazing, enthusiastic nurse to care for me who understands my complex needs and also respects my dignity and pride, just like we do here at Bupa Templestowe.

I believe that aged care is now in the forefront of people’s minds more than it used to be five years ago, but we still have a lot of work to do. We live in an ageing population, our elderly need our help and they need nurses with expertise in their needs. But aged care doesn’t seem as attractive a career as working in theatre or an ICU, although the results and rewards are enormous.

I do what I can. I speak with RMIT students about my journey in aged care, I have invited newspapers to come and see the wonderful things we do for our residents, and we take on student nurses to give them hands-on experience. I want to make a difference.”

“With nursing there are no two days that are ever the same, which is what attracted me to the profession. I went to RMIT because I heard they had the best nursing program. I still speak to many of my lecturers today and I graduated almost six years ago. They also invited me to be on the Program Advisory Committee for two years.

My residents make an impact on me every day; they remind me to live my life to its fullest and ensure that I never live with regrets. They teach me that life is too short to not enjoy it and they tell me every day how appreciative they are of all the effort and expertise we provide for their care and comfort.”

Amanda Caruana graduated with a Bachelor of Nursing in 2009. 

Photography

Top and inserts: Amanda Caruana pictured at Bupa Templestowe, where she works. Photos by RMIT alumnus Emma Phillips.