A sense of belonging

When you find an organisation that ticks all the boxes, you stay.

And Sarita Chaudhary, Senior Care Manager at Uniting AgeWell Kalkee Community Nangatta, says she’s in it for the long haul, with the highly regarded aged care organisation feeling like a second family to her.

“They let me be me,” Sarita says..

Originally from Nepal and now a Registered Nurse, over the last 18-months Sarita has been in the role, she has been able to embrace and share her culture. She’s choreographed a Bollywood dance where the devout Hindu and other staff members donned Saris to perform for residents to celebrate Diwali; made dumplings with the residents for Chinese New Year and felt supported enough to breast-pump for her baby at work.

“I feel like I belong,” says Sarita. “And a sense of belonging is very important, especially for an immigrant.”

She also derives a great deal of joy from her role. “I have a huge respect for older people and what they have gone through during their lives,” Sarita says. “It is wonderful to be able to provide holistic care and to get to know them well. I enjoy that they become part of my life, and that I become part of theirs.”

There’s another huge reason why she’s intent on staying put. Sarita is ambitious. And she’s delighted the organisation is growing her to be the best she can be.

“I would like to be a Residential Services Manager at Uniting AgeWell one day, and the organisation is already committed to growing my leadership skills,” she says.

Sarita has been selected for Uniting AgeWell’s BEST Strategic Leadership Talent Development Program this year, and intends to apply for the new Scholarship program as well as continue to upskill through the suite of training and development opportunities the organisation provides.

The 30-year-old has already completed one-on-one palliative care training with Uniting AgeWell’s specialist leader in the field and says she is thoroughly enjoying the diversity of her role which also enables her to maintain a work/life balance.

The fact that she’s enjoying the role so much comes as no surprise to her. Sarita has nursed in hospitals and in other aged care organisations, and applied to work at Uniting AgeWell because its values mirror her own and for its reputation for excellence and care.

“I want to be the best I can, so it makes sense to work at the best organisation that I can,” she explains.

The early years

Sarita was born in Nepal, the youngest child in her family. When she finished school she studied a three-year nursing degree and started work at a hospital in the city.

“I’ve always had a caring nature, I’ve always wanted to look after people, so I knew from an early aged that I would be a nurse one day,” she says.

Sarita was rushed off her feet working in the busy orthopaedic ward caring for up to 15 patients at a time. But in between the long hours and often onerous working conditions, she met her husband, Mahendra, a physiotherapist at the hospital.

Two years later, Sarita started work at the Family Planning Association of Nepal, an NGO (non-government organisation) role that she found both rewarding and challenging.

Her brother was in Australia, and Sarita and Mahendra decided to emigrate to grow their careers in this land of opportunity.

“So we got married and had a full traditional Hindu wedding, which entailed changing into five costumes overnight,” she recalls. The couple arrived in Australia in 2013, settled in Melbourne and Sarita busied herself studying for Australian qualifications and learning to become fluent in English.

She found a job as a care worker at an aged care facility while studying a Diploma in Nursing and it was during this time she realised exactly how much she loved working with older people.

But Sarita wanted to experience the full spectrum of Australian nursing, so she joined an agency and took on jobs in hospitals, mental health facilities, in rehabilitation – and at aged care centres.

And she was not surprised when the pull to work full time in aged care grew stronger.

Care and compassion

Fast forward a couple of experiences in other aged care organisations, and Sarita, who now had experience in senior clinical care roles, applied for her current position when it was advertised.

“I did my research first,” she says. “Uniting AgeWell certainly seemed to be a leader in aged care, with a good reputation of looking after their clients, residents and staff, so I applied. I was also keen to work for a not-for-profit organisation and the values it represents.”

And she’s never regretted her decision. Sarita says staff are the greatest asset at the dementia-specific Kalkee Nangatta facility and she enjoys the responsibility of managing the multi-faceted team that includes nurses, personal carers and the hotel services staff responsible for food, laundry and everything else in between.

And her leadership style? “I adapt it to suit the needs of various staff members,” she explains. “Basically I treat everyone with the respect and support that I experience each and every day. We all pull together as a team.”

And then there’s the kindness factor that’s across the organisation and is hard to express in words.

“Some staff have been here for 26 years – and I totally get why. It’s a culture of kindness. It’s pretty special!” she says.

There are a number of caring roles available within Uniting AgeWell, not only in residential care but in home care to support the rapidly growing number of clients receiving home care packages in the Barwon region. And roles across the organisation are diverse, from nursing and personal care, to food services, domestic assistance, allied health, social support and more.

With 78 per cent of the workforce identifying as female, Uniting AgeWell offers flexible work arrangements to enable staff to work around their family commitments.

Uniting AgeWell General Manager People and Culture, Gen Toop, says there are a significant number of women in senior and leadership positions with a suite of opportunities for further growth and education available.

There are opportunities for further education, leadership programs and scholarships for professional development. Uniting AgeWell is also a partner with WomenCan, a vocational organisation that empowers women.

“Our commitment to our workforce and our clients is in our blue print,” explains Gen. “We’re proudly an inclusive organisation championing diversity in all its forms. But we’re different in one sense. One of our prerequisites in hiring people is that they share our values of kindness, respect, integrity, innovation and inclusion.”

International Women's Day 2023

While the success and impact of our work relies on all our people thriving, on International Women’s Day we reflect on the opportunity we have to create career pathways for the women we employ, and to celebrate their journeys and the daily impact they each make through their work.

The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is #EmbraceEquity. Linked to a day that has historically championed women’s rights, we are invited to imagine a gender equal world. A world free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination. A world that's diverse, equitable, and inclusive. A world where difference is valued and celebrated.

Reflecting our core value of Inclusion, we’re sharing insights from women making a difference to the lives of people as they age, through their varied roles with Uniting AgeWell.

Read their stories
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Consider a career at Uniting AgeWell

At Uniting AgeWell we believe that every person has the right to age with dignity, to have genuine opportunities to make old age a meaningful part of life, and to have real options in their later years.

As a leading not-for-profit provider of aged care services in Victoria and Tasmania, our 3,000 staff are committed to exceeding standards in the provision of quality aged care and strive to make a difference every day.

We offer a range of career opportunities with roles across health care, administration, hotel services, maintenance and more.

Find out more
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