The countdown to Aged Care Employee Day is on! A reflection on the power of care (and a hot cup of tea)
Bron Morris, part of our Brookview community, recently experienced a surprising act of kindness that made her reflect on the wonderful power of a circle of care.
Heck yeah, we’ll celebrate Aged Care Employee Day! We’re In, hashtag and all! We’ll celebrate every moment of support our carers have given, whether hidden or witnessed. Every act of gentleness, every deed done in the name of dignity. We’ll celebrate as an act of resistance, in defiance of the ageism that turns a blind eye to lives beautifully lived and the stories only sacred wrinkles can tell. We’ll sing the praises of our care staff who spend their working hours pushing through fatigue and sore backs, then go home and continue to care for their families.
I’ll celebrate this day because even I forget how profoundly moving it is to be seen, really seen. Sometimes when we’re in a ‘caring role’ (be it with family, friends or work), it seems like we’re covered in a cloak of invisibility. No one sees what we’re doing because it’s just ‘expected’. That’s what parents do for their children, and what children do for their ageing parents. And that’s what aged care workers do for their residents and clients.
So there was this moment, this day, when I was sitting with one of our aged care residents, and was a hair’s breadth away from losing the plot. I was under the weather, recovering from a cold, feeling tired and miserable. And our resident was experiencing such anxiety, confusion and distress that afternoon that she needed the constant comfort of someone’s company. (Back in the day she was a strong independent woman, but dementia had really done a number on her and robbed her of the resilience she once had.)
Whenever we left her side, she would call out in such anguish that it was distressing for the residents seated around her and extremely demanding on our already-stretched care staff. So I took one for the team and sat with her to calm her. But that day it was so, so hard to stay present to her rambling, confused conversation and her neediness. My eyes began to glaze over.
“You look like you need this,” said Chrissy, one of our beautiful catering staff, handing me a strong cuppa with a wink. I could’ve kissed her. Was my desperation so obvious?
That moment. Chrissy, and the warmth of her voice, and that small act of mercy in a teacup. I know it sounds like an exaggeration, but suddenly I felt like I wasn’t alone. My misery and self-pity took a back seat, and I felt a shot of new energy even before the caffeine had hit.
That moment – of unexpected kindness. Thank you, Chrissy, for reminding me how potent a small, thoughtful gesture of care can be. Thank you for seeing me and being present to me while I tried so desperately to be present for another. You probably thought your offer of a cuppa was just another caring moment that would go unnoticed, but I’m here to tell you that it was the ray of sunshine that saved me on an otherwise very dreary day.
I celebrate you my friend, and celebrate every caring soul we work together with…on Aged Care Employee Day and every other day too.
Bron Morris is Spiritual Care Coordinator at Baptcare Brookview Residential Aged Care community.