They may be more than 12,000km from their original home of Chile, but Mariela and Erika Ramirez have found their own unique extended family in Perth.
The mother and daughter, who are both Care Partners at Baptistcare Gracewood Residential Care lovingly call the 135 seniors who live in the Salter Point facility familia.
Mariela joined the team at Baptistcare Gracewood 12 years ago. Since then, she has forged close bonds with both her colleagues and residents.
Before my family moved to Australia from Chile, I spent a lot of time with my grandmother,” she said.
“I really miss her, and working in aged care makes me feel like we are still connected to each other.”
It was the heart-warming stories that Mariela shared about her work that inspired Erika to follow in her mother’s footsteps when she finished high school four years ago.
“I love being able to give back to those who have come before me and have done so much for my generation,” said Erika.
Mariela and Erika believe their mother and daughter dynamic is what makes their interactions with residents unique.
“We have very different personalities, and we like to play this up with the residents for fun,” said Erika.
“Mum is more introverted than I am, and the residents always have a good laugh when they see her break character and dance around in the Activity Room.”
“We bring the residents out of their shells and try to give them little exciting moments that create a joyful atmosphere,” said Mariela.
For this dedicated mother and daughter duo, spending time at Baptistcare Gracewood isn’t only about rostered shifts.
They pop in for regular visits during their time off and always join the residents for Christmas Day lunch.
“We get together to celebrate, sing carols, and dance with the residents, it brings us so much joy to see them happy,” said Erika.
CEO Russell Bricknell said Mariela and Erika are one of several mother and daughter employees working at Baptistcare, which he believes is a testament to the sense of family that underpins the organisation’s approach to care.
But their genuine devotion to the seniors in their care is a special attribute he sees among people working across the organisation’s residential aged care and home care services.
“The respect, empathy, and friendship people Mariela and Erica bring to our residents are very special,” he said.
“But they, in turn, seem to get so much out of the work they do and the relationships they form, which is humbling and inspiring.”