Stephanie Lao has always felt a special connection to older people. Even as a teenager she knew that working in aged care was where she was meant to be.
So when Steph finished her schooling in Melbourne’s south-eastern suburbs, she enrolled to do a Bachelor of Nursing while working as a Personal Care Assistant at an aged care facility.
Her aim was simple: to provide holistic person centred care to older people. “In a hospital setting, you are providing acute care, and once the patient is treated they are discharged,” Steph explains. “Working in aged care feels very rewarding, you build rapport with residents and can make a positive difference in someone’s day, and this can mean the world to them. I listen to their stories and get to know them. It’s a role that has incredible meaning.”
Aged Care Employee Day falls on Monday August 7 this year. We are using this occasion to celebrate all that people like Steph and the 3,900 plus other people across our organisation do in making a difference to the lives of older people. The care they provide is constant and unwavering, day in and day out. It is hugely appreciated, not only by the organisation but by the people they help.
Steph’s passion for working in aged care was cemented during the first four years of her career. She nursed in residential aged care as well as working part time in a General Practitioner’s Clinic. “Working there wasn’t for me,” she says, “so I gave it up to work exclusively in aged care.”
Steph discovered another unexpected huge plus about nursing in aged care: a clear upward career trajectory.
She started off as a registered nurse, became a RN supervisor and then an Acting Care Manager while studying part-time for her Masters in Leadership and Management, which she completed in 2020.
“Then a role as a Senior Care Manager came up at Uniting AgeWell Strathdon Community. I’d heard that Uniting AgeWell was a great organisation to work for, so I applied,” explains Steph.
She joined the organisation during the middle of the pandemic and despite the challenges, just loved it. Since then she has also stood in as acting Residential Services Manager.
This year Steph was one of a handful of employees at Uniting AgeWell chosen to complete the Strategic Leaders Course, which she is finding both challenging and enjoying. “I’m grateful to be working for an organisation that empowers me to be the best version of myself,” says Steph. “I am certainly working towards becoming an RSM one day.”
Steph also says the values of kindness and inclusiveness that form part of the DNA of the organisation resonate with her.
She was born in the Philippines, moved with her family to Melbourne at the age of seven, and loves that Uniting AgeWell not only embraces but also champions multi-culturalism. “It doesn’t matter where you are from, but who you are, at Uniting AgeWell,” she says. “Diversity brings a lot of knowledge to the table.”
In her spare time she likes to go hiking and is a keen photographer. She also has pet goldfish.
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