Jacinta Geraghty recently retired from her role as Executive Manager of Carinity Aged Care after 50 years of working in the industry. In this Q&A Jacinta talks about her career in senior care.
When did you start working in aged care and what inspired you to join the industry?
Jacinta: As long as I can remember I wanted to be a nurse. I started nursing when I was 17. I always related very well to elderly people and had this burning urge to be a community (in-home care) nurse. We certainly didn’t have the resources we have today – we would bring a billy for hot water and have lunch under a tree – but it was a very rewarding experience.
What have been your roles working in senior care?
Jacinta: I got married and had children, so I stopped nursing for a period of time. When it came time to go back, I initially worked in residential aged care but still had a desire to work in community care. Over 19 years I gained an enormous amount of experience in community nursing, specialised in palliative care, and even went to Malaysia to set up a home care program in Kuala Lumpur. I later transitioned to residential aged care management.
What was your greatest achievement at Carinity Aged Care?
Jacinta: When I started at Carinity in 2009, my first job was to make changes that would improve our financial viability. In such a situation, the first reaction is often to cut wages as staff costs are a significant expense for our business. However, I knew that doing so would jeopardise the level of care we provided to residents, so I looked for other solutions.
I did a lot of analysis on the levels of funding we were receiving from the Government and ensured we increased our income by claiming everything we were entitled to. I then set about upskilling our care staff and upgrading equipment so that we had the capability to cater for residents with higher care needs – which in turn generated an even higher amount of funding from the Government.
It was a lot of hard work, but it set the stage for the organisation we have become. At the time, we had seven aged care communities. By looking outside the usual response of cutting staff and instead investing to create a more skilled workforce, we’ve grown to have 12 aged care communities across Queensland. I clearly didn’t do all that work myself – I had a great team of people around me to make it happen – but I do like to think the plans I put in place were a turning point for Carinity.
What new technology has Carinity Aged Care implemented while you have overseen the business?
Jacinta: I’ve tried to make sure that our practices are contemporary to minimise the demands on staff time. This has involved ensuring the equipment used is up to date to ensure less impact on the staff and allowing for more time with residents.
All sites have electric beds, our pressure relieving mattresses are of a very high standard and ceiling hoists have been implemented in our new aged care buildings. The technology has improved with medication now managed via an electronic tablet and managers have access to up-to-date information on any incidents that occur at the site, ensuring they are across any concerns in a timely manner.
What do you like most about Carinity?
Jacinta: It’s a very wholesome organisation. I think Carinity is a very broad-based organisation with Christianity at its very centre. The staff I have worked with at Carinity have been wonderful people who give 100% to support our services. There is excellent teamwork where staff support each other and come together whenever there are difficult situations to ensure we achieve the best outcomes we possibly can for our residents and clients.
What advice would you give to someone who is considering a career caring for seniors?
Jacinta: It’s very rewarding work but understand it’s a challenging job that is not highly paid, but your rewards come in other ways. The elderly are very appreciative of all that you do for them, and you become a very important part of their life. They show you a lot of love and that in itself is a great reward.
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