Huge heart launches career

Jodie Branch was in her early 40’s when the Tasmanian sheep farm she and her husband managed was sold, leaving the mother-of-two teenagers looking for her first full-time job off the land.

She had a school leaver’s certificate, and apart from working a few casual shifts in bakeries or shops as a youngster, had no work experience at all. What she did have was a willingness to learn and a huge heart.

So, in 2009, Jodie landed a role as a kitchen-hand at Uniting AgeWell Mornington Community, Lillian Martin and within a few short days realised she had a passion for working with older people. “From the get-go, I just loved listening to their stories and being able to make a difference to their lives,” she says.

Now 14 years later, the Care Organiser for Home Care in Southern Tasmania says joining the not-for-profit aged care organisation was one of the best decisions she’s ever made.

Aged Care Employee Day falls on Monday August 7 this year. We are using this occasion to celebrate all that people like Jodie and the 3,900 plus other people across Uniting AgeWell 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.

Jodie worked for a year in the kitchen area before being appointed as a Chef’s Assistant. There she spent her days serving teas and lunches, making sandwiches and helping out wherever she was needed.

“And it was then I realised that I was lucky enough to work for an organisation that not only ‘grows’ you but works with you as your circumstances change,” explains Jodie.

She enrolled to do Aged Care III Cert and worked three days a week while attending TAFE for the other two. It took her around a year to complete the course.

Jodie wanted to experience working in the community – and once again, Uniting AgeWell worked with her. She became an Activity Worker at The Cottage at the Hobart AgeWell Centre where she did arts and crafts activities with clients, and took them out for lunch and on bus outings.

“I even ended up getting a bus license,” says Jodie.

She split her days between working at The Cottage and later at the Risdonvale Centre, with being a Home Care Worker – doing the range of domestic, personal and shopping and social care to enable people to live well at home.

Her dedication and enthusiasm never wavered and she was appointed as Care Organiser, now involved with rostering shifts, helping with the induction of new home care workers and everything else in between.

Home Care, Southern Tasmania Program Manager Ria Padman says, “Jodie helps plan and organise the activities for the Day Centre now, and scheduling in Home Care to name a couple of the many hats she wears. Jodie is kind and understands clients’ needs and preferences and incorporates this into her planning and scheduling.

“She is also a great support to the Home Care Workers in their day to day support of the clients and a fantastic mentor to new staff in the office with her years of experience and wisdom. I know I can always rely on Jodie and count on her for advice.”

A few years ago Jodie decided to reduce her working week to three days, so she could spend more time with her grandchildren. Once again, Uniting AgeWell worked around her needs.

In her spare time Jodie likes to knit, crochet, do crafts and walk on the beach – and spend time with family, of course!

Learn more about careers with Uniting AgeWell

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