A meaningful reality

Lorraine Mascarenhas goes by the title of Admin Officer at Uniting AgeWell Camberwell Community Condare Court – but really, she does a bit of everything.

Watching her in action is like watching one of those toy wind-up action superheroes dart around. She answers phones, deals with queries, helps out with residents … She’s here, there and everywhere.

“No two days are the same,” she says in what must qualify as the understatement of the year.

Indian-born Lorraine moved with her husband to Auckland for ten years before settling Melbourne.

She was raised in a “very western Catholic household”, spoke English from birth and had to learn how to speak Konkani, the traditional language of her Goa region.

Lorraine worked in a couple of jobs in Auckland, including NZ Post, before getting back into passenger revenue accounting in the airlines. She worked in this sector for 18 years before switching to aged care for more flexible hours so she could spend time with her young daughter. She joined Uniting AgeWell in 2014, working first at Strathdon Community in Forest Hill then Camberwell communities, Tanderra and now Condare Court.

And what started off as a bid for the convenience of flexible hours, quickly morphed into much more. She found herself thoroughly enjoying the aged care environment.

“People think that it’s all glitz and glamour working in the airlines – which of course it isn’t. You are serving customers. But aged care is much more than that. It’s a meaningful reality.”

And it is this raw, honest and sometimes confronting reality that Lorraine loves. “The staff all pull together as a team to enable residents to live as happily and as comfortably as possible,” she explains. “There’s no place for egos, for artifice, for any of that nonsense. We just make it work.”

And it does. On every level.

Lorraine says Uniting AgeWell is a very inclusive work place.

“I sometimes bring in traditional Indian foods for the staff to try, like Kulfi – a traditional ice-cream full of dried fruit, almonds and threads of saffron and cardamom. There is huge respect in the organisation for different cultures, and we are encouraged to celebrate our roots and our countries of origin.”

A snapshot of Uniting AgeWell’s staff shows that 42 per cent were born overseas representing 363 countries and speaking 38 different languages.

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