A passion for care and nursing drives Kerry

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A passion for care and nursing drives Kerry

December 13, 2020

Care, listening and learning are three words that Kerry Feistl uses frequently as she talks about taking up the position of Director of Nursing at Liscombe House.

She has joined Old Colonists’ Association of Victoria at the end of what can only be described as a difficult year for nurses. In Kerry’s case, before she arrived at OCAV she had been involved in managing an aged care home* which had succumbed to COVID-19.

“It was a challenge going into a place which I did not know, where all the staff had contracted the virus and it had swept through the residents as well,” Kerry said.

And while the situation was hard, it was the chance for Kerry to do what she loves: return to nursing.

“Working as a nurse in aged care is beautiful nursing, it really is that simple. The home becomes like your home as you get to know the residents and their families, and the staff. Every day you make a difference because it is nursing which treats people as people and not a number.”

Kerry was attracted to the advertisement for a Director of Nursing at Liscombe for two reasons: she admired the values of OCAV and she knew of Liscombe House’s reputation.

“It will be no mean feat following in the shoes of Shaaron but we share similar views of nursing, and especially the importance of putting people first,” Kerry said.

She comes to the position following 14 years in the profession. She started as a Personal Care Assistant after leaving school aged 17.

“I didn’t do Year 12 and my mother told me I had to find work so I started in a nursing home which was old-fashioned and, as far as I was concerned, was horrible,” Kerry said.

She left, went into home care and then returned to aged care and worked herself up the ladder to becoming an enrolled nurse, registered nurse, clinical care coordinator and then into the position of Director of Nursing.

It was that experience which enabled her to agree to manage the outbreak of COVID-19.

“It was scary but my job was to keep the equilibrium as much as possible, keep families in the loop, and focus on the residents.”

That focus included a lot of hand-holding, ordering in burgers and coke, and making sure that residents were kept comfortable, fed and watered.

“The last thing you want is someone fading away because they don’t want to eat or drink. As far as I was concerned, it was more important to let the residents eat and drink what they wanted so that they maintained an appetite for living even if they were not well,” Kerry said.

It is that practical element which Kerry is looking forward to putting into play at Liscombe House.

“The pressure is on these days for nursing to become high-tech and high functioning when in fact what residents is for someone to sit with them, hold their hands. It is small things which count.”

Care is vital, and that includes for the staff and families, as far as Kerry is concerned.

“I always say to my staff is to put yourself into the residents’ shoes: what would you like someone to do for you. That is the start of personalised care.”

Listening and learning are two other crucial ingredients. Listening to what a resident is saying or doing offers insight into how they are feeling.

“I am as concerned, if not more, about that person who is on the edge of the circle, who is not participating, who looks withdrawn because often they don’t know how to get involved,” Kerry said.

“We need to get those people from being watchers to becoming be-ers and doers, and that involves listening and learning.”

But for now, she is learning a lot and so far, impressions are favourable.

*This aged care home was NOT Liscombe House.

 

Volunteering is important to Deb, enabling her to contribute in the aged care sector. “I love it when the residents get downright cheeky. I love it when we get a bit too loud with laughing."

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