“Just like my Gran!”

Meet Uniting AgeWell Hotel Services Coordinator Rangika Magage, who runs the vital behind-the-scenes services in residential aged care – dining, cleaning, laundry and waste management.

The one person who continues to motivate her is her late-grandmother.

“I was born in Sri-Lanka, and my grandmother played a huge role in my early life,” says Rangika. “There aren’t any aged care facilities back home, families look after older parents and grandparents.”

Rangika missed out on the opportunity to look after her Gran when she moved to Australia at the age of 18 to study further. “Gran died of cancer a few years back, and I treat all the residents the same way I used to treat her. With kindness and huge respect.”

Aged Care Employee Day falls on Monday August 7 this year. We are using this occasion to celebrate all that people like Rangika 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. And it is hugely appreciated, not only by the organisation but by the people they help.

Rangika is based at Uniting AgeWell Andrew Kerr Care Community, and also provides customer service guidelines and dining environment training for the organisation’s other aged care homes in Victoria.

With her grandmother firmly in mind, one of the first changes she introduced there was buffet-style breakfasts.

“Previously breakfasts were brought to the residents’ individual rooms on trolleys, and while this option is still available, the buffet service which runs from 7.30am-9.30am means there is a wider variety of food choices and residents can eat whenever they want to,” says Rangika. “Residents also find it more sociable making use of the beautiful servery in the dining room than eating breakfast alone.”

Rangika stumbled into aged care quite by accident. She studied accountancy while earning money working part time as a Food Services Assistant at a health care facility. Her culinary flare saw her promoted to the role of weekend cook which gave rise to a change in direction.

She realised her interest lay in cooking beans rather than counting them, and studied Commercial Cookery followed by a Diploma in Hospitality Management. Rangika worked in aged care in Sydney and Melbourne as she continued to advance her career. She joined Uniting AgeWell towards the end of last year and says the organisation feels “like home”.

“I’m a Buddhist, and I firmly believe in practising kindness and good deeds,” she explains. “I love the values of Uniting AgeWell. They are my values.”

She also knows how much staff members go above and beyond in putting the residents’ needs front and centre in all that they do, and has introduced a rewards system to recognise their efforts. “It’s hugely rewarding to be acknowledged by one of your peers,” she says.

Rangika lives in Berwick with her husband and her four-year-old daughter.

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