Inspired by the great care she received during a serious health scare in her 20s, Roshni Hicks made the decision to completely change her career.
Now the Serviced Apartment Unit Coordinator at Ryman Healthcare’s Linda Jones Retirement Village, Roshni’s diagnosis with Stage 4 Hodgkin’s Lymphoma made her completely reevaluate her life.
“It really was touch and go for a while,” she says, recalling the gruelling 18 months of chemotherapy and nine months of radiotherapy.
“But from that time I spent in hospital, seeing what they do and how much nurses give, that’s when I thought I need to do something in my life and give back what I got in those two years when the nurses looked after me so well. So I changed my life around.”
Roshni had originally come to New Zealand from her native Fiji to study business management at university and had started out in a management role when she received her scary diagnosis.
She also had a young son who was only 13 months old and wondered if she’d ever be able to have any more children.
Fortunately she began to recover and immediately signed up to become an Enrolled Nurse. In 2012, the year she marked five years in remission, she found a job with Ryman, initially as a caregiver at Hilda Ross Retirement Village.
“When I walked in it was like a lightbulb moment,” she says. “Everything was so well organised, with orientation programmes and the way they looked after their staff.”
Roshni qualified as a nurse working in the resthome and would work two days a week as the Serviced Apartment Unit Coordinator at Hilda Ross. She was also the infection prevention control officer for the village, helping to put strict measures in place particularly during the Covid-19 lockdown.
“My priority was that our residents are safe because they are so fragile and wouldn’t cope with something like that. And to keep the residents safe we have to keep the staff safe too.”
During the nine years of working at Hilda Ross, the highlights were being presented with a kindness award from fellow staff and the many emails and letters from residents’ family members describing how she would go above and beyond the call of duty.
“It gives me happiness and peace knowing that I’m making a difference in someone’s life. And getting that feedback from relatives encourages you to keep going the extra mile,” she says.
When the Serviced Apartment Coordinator role came up at Linda Jones, Roshni decided to take up the challenge even though leaving her residents and colleagues at Hilda Ross was a huge wrench.
Now, with a young daughter completing her family, Roshni counts her blessings every day and credits her illness with giving her the incredible empathy and kindness she is known for at Hilda Ross and now Linda Jones.
“When I see residents in pain or I see a change in my residents I can feel it because I know, there was a time when I couldn’t do things for myself. I couldn’t even shower myself. So when the residents come here I know how they feel when they can’t do things for themselves.
“They were not those people when they were young. They were doctors, teachers, nurses, and that’s what I see, so I can easily see where they’re coming from.”
Her answer to calm that fear or relieve that stress?
“Just holding someone’s hand and saying ‘it’s going to be okay’, especially when someone has moved into the care centre for the first time, just saying ‘we’re here for you’ or giving someone a hug, it makes a big difference.”