As one of Edmund Hillary Retirement Village’s two Clinical Managers, Joy Yang has enjoyed a rapid rise in the ranks since graduating with her nursing degree in 2018.
But she admits she had her eye on working in the village since completing a project as a third year student which involved interviewing a serviced apartment resident.
“I was amazed by the concept of independent living and assisted living. I was also impressed by the helpful village community and the wonderful activities the village organized.
“And when you walk in and there’s this fountain at the front!” she laughs as she recalls her first impressions at the beautiful resort-like setting.
“From that time, Edmund Hillary became my dream workplace.”
Joy came to New Zealand as a 15-year-old homestay student from China where the concept of aged care is quite different.
“It’s more like a hospital with six people sharing a room, so it was really eye-opening seeing residents like this, very different.
“Meeting this serviced apartment resident I could see all the support she was receiving and the benefits of living in a small community so she didn’t feel lonely, she felt looked after and there was easy access to medical advice.”
Joy’s wish to join the team wasn’t realised until July 2019, when she finally saw her dream come true.
She started as a Registered Nurse then quickly progressed to Unit Coordinator, working in both the Special Care and Hospital Units. She has now worked as Clinical Manager since October 2021 overseeing the three hospital units.
Taking on a leadership role was a big step for Joy who admits she was initially out of her comfort zone.
“I didn’t even talk to the residents when I first started, I was very shy, so there’s been a lot of personal growth for me, and it really helped to have all the encouragement and support from the team here.”
Joy says gaining the courage to speak to residents was like opening a ‘whole new world’, after hearing stories of people’s different backgrounds and experiences. And even the smallest of interactions were enriching.
“When you see a resident, even if you don’t know them, they will put on a big smile and ask how you are, it’s just a simple thing but it can brighten up your day.”
Joy extends this rapport to the residents’ families too, understanding that good communication is vital for that relationship.
“When we are showing the families through, we have that initial bonding then. I just think about what I would want to know and that’s what I deliver to them. These relationships can be very rewarding too,” she says.
Working for Ryman Healthcare, with its emphasis on delivering care that must be ‘good enough for mum, and dad’, is a great foundation to build upon and extends to the team too, says Joy.
“The things that impress me about Ryman Healthcare are the many opportunities available, the support that’s provided, and the way they care about staff, which we saw particularly throughout COVID.
“There is always innovation, Ryman is constantly reviewing what can be done better to improve both residents’ wellbeing and staff’s wellbeing and safety in the workplace.”
Knowing she is making a positive difference to how residents feel is a hugely satisfying aspect to the job.
“Seeing residents getting better in health and happier in our care is what I find rewarding.
“It is also rewarding being an advocate for our residents, and assisting them to be comfortable in their journey with us.”
The most amazing aspect of working in the village, though, is the constant emphasis on kindness which is so strong it’s palpable, says Joy.
“It is in the air and you can feel it as soon as you step in the building every day.
“The staff are so welcoming and cheerful – we care about each other and have become a big extended work family. Even meeting residents in the stairway – everyone reacts in the same way.”