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Grace Joel’s new Clinical Manager changing the definition of care

Written by Sieska Conyngham
on December 16, 2021

Sheena wants to change the way people think about aged care.

“People have this general perception that care homes still look like they did in the 80’s,” says Sheena.

“I really challenge that.”

Recently appointed as the new Clinical Manager in Grace Joel’s Care Centre, she wants to upscale holistic approaches in Gerontology nursing.

“I want residents to be more involved in the decision making of their own lives and for care to be more about preventative nursing.

“It’s not about the disease the person is coming in with, it’s about the person as a whole.

“People are not their disease and not their disability.

Sheena describes the residents in Grace Joel’s care center as individuals with lots of love to give and says individuals in Grace Joel aren’t just sitting around.

“I’ve seen people in wheelchairs booking taxis to volunteer and to teach refugees and migrants how to speak English. Residents here still have immense capabilities at varied levels.

“A woman in the care center here still drives!

“They are your mum, your dad, your aunty, your uncle. You would have come across them in your lives. Actually, each person is unique and full of wisdom and has a lot of love to give.”

While Sheena is now in charge of nursing for 91 patients, eight years ago she had only just landed in New Zealand on a student visa.

“Growing up my parents were always talking about New Zealand, and how wonderful it was, but they never ended up migrating,” says Sheena, who hails from Tacloban in the Philippines.

“When the opportunity came up, I took it.

“I came as a student and did caregiving for eight months, before getting registration and working as a registered nurse. I did that for seven years before moving to Grace Joel in early 2021.

Seeing her immense passion for aged care nursing and her skills, she was appointed as Clinical Manager in November.

“I hope to keep my highly skilled team and make sure that everyone continues to find value in their work. Empowering staff to then go on to empower residents is high on my priority list.”

Sheena says that the most important thing is to make the small connections with people, and that they can lead to big breakthroughs.

“One resident was a retired systems engineer who was resigned to the fact that he now had a disability, but then we gave him the opportunity to tinker around in the village, work with maintenance, give them advice, and that actually improved his health. When we find the right connections, it can really change people.

“Sometimes too much care is detrimental too. People can become too dependent for their needs when we want to encourage greater levels of independence.”

As to what drives her? Sheena says that it’s the unknown.

“As I grow in Gerontology nursing, I keep having more questions than answers. That’s what keeps me going. I’m the person that really enjoys the unknown problems and I'm always trying to find answers and improve the health of our residents.

“Even up to the very end of life they are still learning and there is still growth. That’s the point of view I would like even all the families to start thinking from.

“I want to change the perception of what it is like to be in the Care Centre.

“I would like people to start thinking that it’s just a change of address. A change of address with more assistance.”

About Ryman Healthcare:

Ryman was founded in 1984 and has become one of New Zealand’s largest listed companies. The company owns and operates 45 retirement villages in New Zealand and Australia which are home to more than 13,900 residents and the company employs 6,800 team members.

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