“A second family to me”

Indian-born Registered Nurse Manpreet Mangat says a lot of what motivates her are the “warm feels” she gets from helping older people.

And her colleagues at Uniting AgeWell Kalkee Community, Nangatta know full well what she means.

“Many of the older residents here live with varying degrees of dementia,” explains Manpreet. “They live very largely in the moment. And if I can make that moment happy, why not?”

That’s the reason Manpreet got into aged care in the first place. Making older people, like her parents, happy and comfortable. “My parents are still in India, but each and every day I am very aware that the older people I look after are someone’s beloved Mum or Dad. And I give them the same care that I would like my elderly parents to have.”

The theme of Harmony Week, from March 20 – 26, is ‘Everyone Belongs’ and it presents an opportunity for us to celebrate what we practice each and every day. That everyone belongs. Inclusiveness is not only championed by Uniting AgeWell, but enshrined in our blueprint and is one of our five values – the others are kindness, respect, integrity and innovation. A snapshot of our staff shows that 42 per cent were born overseas representing 363 countries and speaking 38 different languages.

Manpreet is also proud to work for an organisation that embraces multi-culturalism and has inclusiveness as one of its core values.

Manpreet, who has been in the role for four years, is a devout Sikh who says another reason why she’s staying put in the job is because Kalkee Nangatta feels like a “second family” to her.

So where did her journey start?

Manpreet grew up speaking Pinjabi and later learned to speak Hindi and English at school. She had always been drawn to nursing and she and her husband decided to move to Australia in 2008 for a better life and for her to pursue her nursing career.

However, the textbook English she learned at school was a far cry from mastering medical terminology in English as she studied for her Bachelor of Nursing Degree in Australia while working as a personal care worker in aged care

“And then of course there’s Aussie English, which took me a long time to get the hang of,” she explains. “Aussies speak very quickly, and they use a lot of Aussie slang, and at first I couldn’t understand what anyone was saying.”

But her perseverance paid off. She did a stint working in hospitals before starting in a casual role at Uniting AgeWell’s Manor Lakes Community in Victoria. Then an opening came up at Kalkee Community, Nangatta, and she jumped at it. She was encouraged to do a course in infection control and is now an infection control lead.

“I love that I work for an organisation that has the same values as my own,” she says. “Of kindness, of respect for others and that we are all exactly the same, regardless of colour, caste or culture. From day one I just fitted in and was treated the same way that I treat others. That’s how it is supposed to be.”

Learn more about Harmony Week