Nepalese aged care nurse brings a “summit” of smiles

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Nepalese Registered Nurse (RN) Elina Shrestha with residents Fay Roberts and Helen Young celebrate multicultural days. [Source: Supplied]

From the foothills of the Himalayas to the suburbs of Canberra, a group of aged care workers are sharing their culture and care with older Australians. 

A special bond is unfolding between residents at Goodwin House and their Nepalese carers, whose warmth, laughter and spirit illuminate their daily lives. 

The journey from Nepal to Canberra has been an incredible one for Elina who moved to Australia in 2017 on a student visa to further develop her nursing skills. 

“When I say I am from Nepal, residents used to ask me, ‘Did you climb Mount Everest?’ I always tell them that I can’t even climb a small hill, so can’t imagine myself climbing Mount Everest […] We laugh it out and share a moment together,” said Elina Shrestha, Deputy Director of Nursing at Goodwin House Ainslie. 

Elina hails from the Nepalese Indigenous Newar group, a people rich in culture, art heritage and cuisine. Having been an RN back in Nepal, she loves working in aged care where she can make a tangible difference in the lives of older Australians.

“I loved to listen to their life experiences,” she said after the highly successful multicultural celebrations. 

“I follow Hinduism but respect every other religion and their cultural beliefs and values. I believe in kindness and love for every humankind.

Elina’s Australian aged care journey began in 2018 as an Assistant in Nursing (AIN). She graduated with a Master of Nursing International from the University of Wollongong in 2019 and graduated with a Diploma in Leadership and Management in 2022. 

Residents often say Nepalese carers are very humble and kind which makes Elina feel proud of her culture.

Last year, Goodwin Aged Care Services began holding cultural immersion days to celebrate staff and resident culture. These now take place across Goodwin’s multiple locations in Canberra and the south coast of New South Wales.

The celebrations transform the activities room at Goodwin House Ainslie into a bustling hub with staff displaying their diverse heritage, sharing delectable traditional food, traditional dress and lively music. 

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Nepalese RN Elina Shrestha with Goodwin resident Suzanne Carter enjoying the special multicultural days. [Source: Supplied]

Joan Gare, 91, a former RN, said it was wonderful to see staff celebrating their culture with residents. 

“It’s brought me memories of my years of travelling the world,” another resident Sonia Collier, 96, added. 

A recent report by the Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) found there would be a shortfall of at least 110,000 direct-care workers by 2030. 

Aged and Community Care Providers Association (ACCPA) Chief Executive Officer (CEO)Tom Symondson says migrant carers like Elina are helping to alleviate a looming workforce crisis in Australian aged care. 

“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.

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