Uniting AgeWell’s Lifestyle Manager Sharon Levey thinks with her heart. It’s why she’s in aged care.
And to be honoured as Uniting AgeWell’s 2022 Employee of the Year means a great deal to her.
“It’s so meaningful to be recognised by your peers and your mentors,” Sharon explains. “It’s humbling, but also leaves me feeling so incredibly appreciated.”
And she is.
Sharon leads a team of 19 coordinators and some 50 + lifestyle staff at Uniting AgeWell’s 20 residential aged care sites across Victoria and Tasmania. They are the fun and fitness squad, who organise activities, exercise classes, outings, bus trips, games, entertainers… the experiences that put smiles on faces and make life enjoyable.
Sharon also sees the award as validating the lifestyle team’s hard work. “It’s reinforcing the importance of leisure activities for social wellbeing and happiness,” says Sharon. “I’m delighted that ensuring that residents are busy and purposeful, as well as feeling included and valued, is on an equal footing with looking after their medical and dietary needs.”
Sharon says this award also vindicates her personal growth. “I was once told by a previous employer that I needed to think less with my heart and that I had to toughen up to be really successful. I ignored their advice and quit. And from the first day I joined Uniting AgeWell nearly five years ago, I’ve been encouraged to just be me.”
And it is her big heart that drives Sharon in her quest to ensure residents live the best lives they can. She’s been steadfast in implementing programs that share joy and stimulate cognition and engagement, especially for people living with dementia and has championed the purchase of Tovertafels – known as magic tables - in as many residential homes as possible.
“They’re fun, they provide laughter and enjoyment for those with cognitive challenges, like dementia, as well as those who are not cognitively challenged,” she says.
But there’s another reason: their families. Ever perceptive, Sharon noticed that it was a way for family members to connect with older loved ones. Grandchildren think its “way cool” to take on their forebears in interactive games.
“It’s fun. And fun is a great healer,” she says.
Sharon has been chosen to participate in Uniting AgeWell’s BEST Strategic Leaders Course, with the aim of further developing her leadership skills and building on her strengths. “I was told that my key strength was relationship building, because I think with my heart,” says Sharon. “And instead of focusing on my weaknesses, they’re helping me develop my strengths even further so I become a super version of myself.”
Sharon’s management style, reflects the core values of Uniting AgeWell. Kindness, respect, integrity, innovation and inclusion. “Team work is what it is all about,” says Sharon firmly. “And that’s the way it should be.”
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.”
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.
Watch as Sharon is awarded 2022 Employee of the Year
The energy and positivity she brings to the organisation is infectious. Sharon constantly places customers and staff above all else and lives and breathes our values.
Throughout COVID, Sharon provided unparalleled support to our residential teams, often spending weeks on site to run programs or lend a hand when they were in lockdown and staff were furloughed.
A tireless campaigner for improving the quality of life of our customers, Sharon encourages everyone to look through the prism of what the older person can do, rather than what they can’t.