Faces of Baptcare #35 - meet Carla De Oliveira Magalhaes, Nurse Unit Manager at our Westhaven residential aged care community

How long have you worked at Baptcare?

I joined in May last year, so I’ve been here around ten months now.

Have you always been a nurse?

I started in the aged care industry as a volunteer at another facility in Sunshine.

An older lady reached out her hand to me for some support and I just knew instantly that I was making a difference. I had worked in warehouse and retail environments previously, had completed university, but I didn’t have a strong sense of where I was going in my career until that experience.

I completed a Certificate III in Aged Care and worked as a PCA for about ten years, which was incredibly rewarding. I really understood that I was making a difference in the system and started thinking about how to lead positive change. It all stemmed from a strong feeling of empathy and connection with the elderly.

I kept studying and became a Division 2 Nurse and then a Registered Nurse. I really wanted to get into management and help educate other staff about leading the way in providing the best of care. I’ve been a Nursing Manager for five years now and I love it!

What training did you complete?

Apart from my Certificate III in Aged Care, I’ve got a Diploma in Enrolled Nursing and a Bachelor of Nursing. Maybe I can go and do my Master’s now! I love learning and developing my skills.

What do you love about your job?

I love guiding the team and providing leadership on a range of things to make sure we are doing our jobs the right way – about the aged care standards we need to follow, legislative requirements and one on one care. I love teaching staff – with 20 years’ experience now, I’ve got a lot of insight to share. Being in a management role means I’ve got the opportunity to share that knowledge with others.

What is a typical day at work like for you?

I make sure I do a team check-in and a resident check-in. Ensuring that day to day care is running smoothly is a key part of my role. I take on any feedback, continuous improvement ideas and make sure that staffing levels are good. I’m the ‘go to’ person on the floor so if there are any issues, I’m immediately in solution mode.

As a Nurse Unit Manager, there’s always going to be desk work and admin to take care of. But by nature, I’m curious about how we can always improve and make things better. Working on keeping strong connections between residents and their families is important to me. I’m a really curious person and I like to focus on problem solving and helping others. Sometimes I’ll pop in and see what’s happening on other floors and see if there’s anything I can help with. Resolving things gives me great satisfaction.

What keeps you motivated?

Without a doubt, it’s the residents.

Many of them have no-one to visit them – their friends may have passed away. They aren’t able to look after themselves at home anymore so they’ve come here – this is their new home. So, I understand that I’m the person they can rely on and advocate for them.

I think I understand their situation really well because of my own circumstances, growing up. When I was four years old, I moved to Australia from overseas and didn’t have a lot of extended family around me. I never knew my grandparents from my father’s side of the family. I had to build new relationships and bonds in a new place. I guess I’ve been looking for that connection to older people in my life – hearing their stories, the life lessons they’ve learned. They are looking for affection and want to hold my hand. I’m so happy to be able to do that.

What do you like to do outside of work?

I love spending time with my daughter. She was only four months old when I started working at Baptcare – I’m still a new mum. It’s fascinating to watch her play – I keep seeing things in her that echo my own personality traits. I see her trying to get hold of her toys and think – “Ha! That’s just like me – stubborn in a good way!” Any spare time I have, I want to spend it with my family.

When I want to relax, I turn to nature. I love the outdoors and being around water – oceans and rivers are really soothing.

What do you love about working at Baptcare?

I get the flexibility I need as a new mum. I was able to adjust my working hours to 7am-3pm (instead of 9am-5pm) so that I can spend time with my daughter in the afternoon. If I need to look after her, I can get Carer’s Leave. There’s a really good understanding that people have their own lives outside of work.

I enjoy the pace of the work – especially in the Transition Care Program – because I’m constantly meeting new people with different needs. The variety of work is fantastic.

If you could meet up with anyone for coffee, who would that be?

I would love to be able to meet all of my grandparents for a coffee, together. I’ve only got one grandparent left. So, to see them all again over a coffee, that would mean so much to me.

What’s your motto in life?

Go for it! Believe in yourself.

I never believed that I could be where I am – but someone said to me, “You’ve got it! Go for it!” And now, I want to say that to everyone.

Sure, there will be hurdles and things can be hard – but if you persist, you’ll get it.

Dream big! I always want to keep climbing and really make a difference for others. So, go for it!