A life full of loving care.
Devoted aged care leader believes that the more connected older people feel, the better their quality of life.
Laurel Winwood is a lucky woman, because today, some thirty years into her career in aged care, she still loves her job at Radius Care Taupaki Gables every bit as much as she did at the start.
Laurel grew up in the tiny Bay of Islands settlement of Okaihau, not far from the Hokianga, attending the local college and volunteering at the neighbouring town’s rest home.
It was here, along with spending quality time over many afternoon teas with her grandmother and great-grandmother, that Laurel developed her warmth and strong affinity for older people.
“I learnt so much from my grandmother and great-grandma. They taught me to embroider, knit and crochet and, of course, we had a lot of laughs along the way. I feel the same way about the residents here at Taupaki Gables. They’re just wonderful people to be around,” said Laurel.
Today, Laurel is one of Radius Care’s longest-serving carers, having been involved at the Taupaki Gables residence in West Auckland since mid-1992.
When she was just a teenager, her mum predicted that she’d one day be a nurse and all these years later that vision still holds true.
As Manager of Taupaki Gables, she’s seen it all, from the time of the first expansion of the building – it was once a farm homestead – to today’s modern, first-class care facility.
Her loyalty is based upon the connection she feels with every one of the people she cares for and her exceptional staff too. She also feels comfortable with the principles that drive the Radius Care business.
“Radius Care is built on oldfashioned family values, which I really appreciate,” she said.
“We always place the welfare of the residents at the very front of our decision-making and nothing is ever allowed to compromise that. When you have a connection with people in your care, they do better.”
GROWING GREAT CARERS
Laurel has been part of the career development of a number of young nurses and carers. She goes back a long way with many of those staff. One of those is Emma, for whom Laurel has been a longstanding mentor, and who is now the resident Clinical Manager.
“It has been a wonderful privilege to watch people like Emma come in and progress over time into incredibly professional carers who are so focused on doing the right thing. I couldn’t be prouder of all of our team. They are an outstanding group of kind, decent people.”
LIFE WELL LIVED
One of Laurel’s fundamental beliefs is helping her residents live life to the full.
“I can assure you that all of our people sleep well at night, because we keep them nice and busy with crafts, outings and events.
We even have our own vege garden, raised up to waist level to minimise stress on their backs, that those in our gardening group tend to. We eat all the lettuces they produce too.”
Laurel also believes that, as Radius Care’s brand motto attests, caring is a calling.
“Let me assure you, there is noone who works in aged care who is doing it for the money”, she said.
“It’s a difficult job, but it’s also one that can be incredibly fulfilling with the bonds we form and the difference we can make to people’s lives.
CLOSE TO THE HEART
Interestingly, Laurel’s own mother-in-law is one of the residents at Taupaki Gables and Laurel’s husband, David, regularly visits his mum for a cup of tea and
“David is so happy that Mum is being so well looked after. She was living in Australia and it became pretty clear that she was finding it difficult to cope,” said Laurel.
The inability to cope – called acopia by those in the aged care sector – is often a telltale sign that an elderly person might be in need of more constant and consistent assistance.
Laurel Winwood advises families to keep a watch out for changes in regular behaviour. Even something as seemingly simple as not having staple meal ingredients in the pantry or fridge can be a warning sign.
“If you’re not sure what to do, just get in touch with your local care provider. At Radius Care, we have a 6-step plan that can help ease the way to help families make the right call.”
MANY YEARS AHEAD
Laurel Winwood isn’t a one-off. As she says herself, there are any number of people within the Radius Care family who share her kind, caring nature.
But she is special and, thankfully, she has many more years to offer her skills and compassion to the residents of Radius Care Taupaki Gables.