INsite: How did you get into the role you’re in now?
Joanne: I was a care worker but then I got hurt on the job and so they offered me the job of activities coordinator.

INsite: What does a typical day at work entail?
Joanne: I organise all the programmes for the day so the residents can be kept busy. This includes programmes in the lounge like their exercise programmes and the music therapist to come in to do music therapy.  We do crafts and play board and floor games like a bean bag toss.

INsite: What do you love most about your job?
Joanne: I love the contact with the residents. The one-on-one time and being able to make a difference. I have a passion for the elderly. You can learn so much from them. I’ve been there already five years doing it, and you think you know some things, then they teach you something else. I learn from them what happened in their past and how they dealt with things. One of the residents will be tearful and they’ll tell you they were in the war and how to help other people.

INsite: And what are the most challenging aspects?
Joanne: It’s keeping them motivated to keep their motor skills going, and to keep them going. If they don’t come down and do the exercises their bodies will break down. The key is choosing something THEY’D like to do. We’re all the same us humans. Not everything suits everyone; you must have a variety of activities.

INsite: Have you taken any training or professional development which you’ve found particularly helpful to what you do?
Joanne: I’ve done Careerforce Level 4 diversional therapy. It was very helpful. It helped me understand what I was doing and why we were doing it. It taught me how to deal with different types of dementia and how to deal with people and how to prepare more programmes in the right way.

INsite: If you could change one thing about New Zealand’s aged care or retirement industries, what would it be, and why?
Joanne: That it wouldn’t be so costly for people to be in a rest home. It’s so expensive. If you’ve worked really hard all your life then you have to pay for it. It shouldn’t be means tested. Everyone should be treated the same way – we are all equal. It means people only come in to the home when they are much older and it means they are coming in to die, and that’s really sad. If they came in here earlier they’d have a better quality of life.

INsite: When you’re not working, where can you be found?
Joanne: I can be anywhere! Family is important to me – I have children in Christchurch who we visit. My partner and I have a Sunday lunch date – and the rest of the time I like doing my scrap booking. I have quite a few elderly friends who I like to visit.

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