A dedicated carer with an impressive three-decade career in the same Warwick aged care home has come full circle by caring for the very woman who gave her the job 35 years ago.
After working for so long in a close-knit regional Queensland town like Warwick, Sharon Hobbs, 62, is now in the privileged position of caring for Akooramak resident Mrs Maureen Gillespie.
Mrs Gillespie was the aged care home’s Director of Care from 1978 to 2002. She employed Sharon in 1998.
“We often talk about the good old days,” Sharon reminisced. “(We talk about) when she was in charge … how things were different back then and she always tells me what a good girl I was, and we have a good laugh.”
Sharon juggles a four days on, four days off permanent part-time rotating roster in the McCullough wing and regularly helps to fill gaps when staff numbers are stretched. In addition to her current 25-year stint as a Direct Care Worker with dementia and palliative care patients, Sharon also worked at Akooramak as a “domestic” in the kitchen and cleaning for nine years before taking time away from paid employment to raise her children.
“I love the oldies. I love my job. They are just great to look after. There are challenges but you just deal with it and get on with it,” she said.
Sharon is a key worker in a sector which is facing a shortage of at least 110,000 direct care workers within the next decade unless urgent action is taken to boost the workforce.
A recent Committee for Economic Development Australia (CEDA) report found that the shortage will balloon to more than 400,000 workers by 2050 unless dramatic action is taken.
The Aged and Community Care Providers Association (ACCPA) has been working on solutions, according to CEO Tom Symondson. “That’s why we’ve been advocating for better access to education, improved access to housing for care staff particularly in rural areas, easier migration routes for overseas workers, and direct funding of targeted aged care workforce programs,” he said.
Sharon’s dedication has recently been acknowledged in the ACCPA “You Are ACE!” campaign which recognises excellence across residential aged care, home and community care, retirement living and seniors housing.
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