Lauren: Working for the future of aged care
Working as a registered nurse in aged care led Lauren Todorovic to set up her business, the Aged Care Report Card, a TripAdvisor-style website where people can write reviews of aged care facilities. As well as families, Lauren invites aged care workers to write reviews too. How did she end up running the Report Card? This is Lauren’s story.
It’s strange how life, if you let it, can take you on mysterious pathways.
While I didn’t know exactly where or how my career would go after I graduated from my nursing degree, I knew somehow it would involve caring for older people.
My nursing career began in a hospital and later palliative care, before I immersed myself in aged care. I must say my colleagues were a little unsure why I wanted to work in aged care over a hospital.
But for me it was quite clear.
It was less about the acuity of patients and more about the impact you can make on someone’s life. In aged care you get to know residents over months, even years, and you have the opportunity to really make a difference in their life.
I naturally feel drawn towards situations and opportunities where I’m surrounded by older people, whether it be for work or in my own personal time. I believed then and still do now, that our elders have a wealth of knowledge and wisdom. There is so much we can learn from them if we just take the time out of our busy schedules. After all, many have lived through wars, the Depression and even similar life challenges to you or me, so they can impart their advice and life lessons for us.
My grandfather taught me a number of qualities when caring for older people: to be patient and take your time, to be nurturing, gentle and respectful. He lived with our family since I was born – and this was without a doubt where my fondness and interest towards older people began.
He hadn’t had an easy life and suffered after the war with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The last 20 or so years of his life when he was with us, I’m certain he did have a good life. I’m sure the reason he lived well into his 90s was because of the love and support our family provided.
We allowed him to make his own lifestyle choices even if it we didn’t necessarily agree. We let him enjoy his life and (with our support) run it the way he wanted. This is a simple pleasure in life I believe, but sadly not all people are given this as they age. Yet it’s something I believe is a basic human right.
Both my grandfather (maternal) and grandmother (paternal) have played an instrumental part in who I am and the path I’m on today.
And where I find myself today is running my own business, Aged Care Report Card, the TripAdvisor styled system for the aged care industry. Which was at least 18 months in the making before the site actually went live – it has now been operating for over two years.
I still recall the early days, I was working two jobs at the time – one was Monday to Friday in the hospital and the other was night duty on weekends in aged care. Which seems a little crazy now, but I was focused and committed and knew I had a lot of work to do to create a more transparent system.
Aged care has come a long way since I started working as a personal carer over 15 years ago.
Aged Care Report Card seeks to promote a rising tide of well performing facilities, rather than single out the weakest facilities. Showcasing excellence in care and promoting an aspirational culture towards improving the quality of care is the primary objective.
Excellence in care I believe is ultimately a reflection of outstanding leadership at a management level, commitment at a clinical level and a culture of innovation across an organisation.
As a nurse my colleagues (which included any person working in aged care) were often too afraid to give honest feedback to senior management because they didn’t want to lose their job or jeopardise potential career advancements.
Regardless of how big or small the issue, too often they didn’t want to say anything. When, in truth, their feedback would have been invaluable to any manager.
Part of what we aim to initiate with Aged Care Report Card is changing the culture of aged care workers to highlight the importance of providing feedback in a constructive way – it doesn’t have to be made public on our website and can be privately messaged anonymously to facilities.
I believe that through ACRC’s platform and the new software we have created, older people, aged care workers and providers will all benefit.
If you are working in aged care or have a loved one in care, then please write a review – help create positive change whilst providing recommendations for families seeking quality care for their loved one.
Previously on Nurse Uncut: