After five decades of care, this passionate nurse calls it a day!

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Cathy Bruick cuts a cake at her farewell party where staff and residents celebrated her five-decade contribution to the nursing profession. [Source: Supplied]

Dedicated aged care Enrolled Nurse (EN) Cathy Buick has retired after an amazing 54 years of service, but her career was 100 years in the making stretching back to a village in Scotland. 

Inspired by her Scottish grandmother, the Western Australian, 71, always wanted to make a difference. 

“When I was three years old, I remember I always wanted to be a nurse. My grandmother inspired me because if people were sick in the village, she went and helped,” Cathy said. 

At 15, and living in the small southwest Scottish village of Newton Stewart, Cathy jumped at the opportunity to pursue a pre-nursing course, opening up a lifetime career in hospitals, midwifery and aged care across two countries. 

“Nursing for me has been a fantastic journey with lots of challenges along the way. I have loved every minute. Caring for people from babies to aged care and everyone in between has been so rewarding,” she said. 

Cathy feels deeply privileged to have served as a nurse. She loved caring for older people at Coolibah Care in Mandurah, 50km south of Perth, for the past 17 years.  

“Coolibah gave me a lot of choices to do things. It was a fantastic place to work. I’ve got great friends there and you always feel you can go back – in fact, I just went back to visit everyone at Christmas and say hello.” 

During her 54 years as a nurse, Cathy always encouraged others to pursue the same path. 

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Cathy Buick on the day of her graduation from nursing school in Scotland. [Source: Supplied]

“All my life nursing has been a great passion for me, and I would definitely encourage people to go into nursing – I loved it.” 

Aged care staff shortages

Aged care in Australia faces a shortage of more than 11,000 nurses right now, with demand set to spiral in coming years with a rapidly ageing population. 

The Committee for Economic Development in Australia – has predicted that by 2030 there would be a shortage of at least 110,000 direct-care workers. The Aged and Community Care Providers Association (ACCPA) is working on ways to attract more nurses to the sector.  

Cathy Buick has recently retired from Coolibah Care where she has been an integral part of the team for the past 17 years.

“Enrolled Nurses like Cathy play a pivotal role in aged care provision, offering compassionate support, medical expertise, and a nurturing presence that significantly enhances the well-being and quality of life for older Australians,” ACCPA Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Tom Symondson said. 

“We’re advocating for better access to education, improved access to housing, particularly in rural areas, easier migration routes for overseas nurses, and direct funding of targeted workforce programs.”

Cathy and her husband, Brian, married in 1975 and moved to Australia in 1988. She enjoyed the flexibility of working as an EN in Australia while also caring for her four children. 

She was passionate about nursing from the very beginning until the end. Coolibah residents remain close to her heart even in retirement. 

“Coolibah gave me a very nice going away. I went back to the Christmas party and was in on  Christmas Eve, took chocolates. I will definitely go back and see some residents and staff again. Give them a little visit.” 

To further recognise the immense contribution made by Cathy, Coolibah Care CEO, Amanda Crook, nominated the dedicated staff member in the Aged and Community Care Providers Association (ACCPA) You Are ACE! campaign.  

She said Cathy had made an amazing contribution to the nursing profession and so many lives throughout her five decades of nursing.  

“Anyone who has met Cathy speaks of her quiet, patient, and caring manner and her amazing mentorship of students and new team members. Our residents and staff will miss you,” she said. 

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