MercyCare / News / Community Heroes: Working to keep seniors healthy and happy

Community Heroes: Working to keep seniors healthy and happy

At MercyCare we are incredibly proud of all our frontline workers who continue to provide care to those who need them during these challenging and uncertain times.

They are the support workers, the aged care workers and the early learning educators, who continue to show up to work every day to ensure those depending on them get the care they need.  

Here is some insight into the roles these 'Community Heroes' continue to play throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. 


ros-social.pngSometimes it’s a smile appearing, other times it’s a frown relaxing – either way, Aged Care Community and Home Senior Support Worker Ros Andreoli knows when she’s brightening someone’s day. And that’s all the acknowledgement she needs.

Ros has been supporting older Western Australians to remain in their own homes for the past seven years. Many of her clients appreciate the reassurance and encouragement she provides. For some, Ros is an essential support to help them get out into the community. Some simply enjoy her companionship.

“I think support workers are important because they allow older people to stay in their own homes for longer, and for some people, that’s really important,” Ros said.

“I love my job and I’m grateful that I get to spend time with elderly people – it’s rewarding knowing you’re bringing joy and a bit of happiness to someone’s day or that you’re helping someone achieve something they want to do, that they otherwise wouldn’t be able to.”

Despite the challenges facing Ros and other support workers in recent weeks, there have been some positives too. Ros has enjoyed having more time to spend chatting with her clients over a “cuppa” and offering clients a ‘shop by list’ service to keep them safe from supermarket crowds.

“I’m very fortunate to have such a supportive family who haven’t questioned my decision to keep working because they know how much my job means to me,” Ros said.

“The hardest part has been not seeing my own parents. We’re a very social family so that has been quite difficult for us all.”


Gayle-social-(1).pngAs the Care Coordinator at MercyCare’s McAuley House social centre, every day is an opportunity for Gayle Blenkinsopp to make a positive difference in someone’s life. Helping older Australians stay connected to their community through social activities and group outings is what contributes to Gayle’s own sense of purpose.

“I love the one-to-one interactions I have with our visitors to McAuley House. Many of us have built a wonderful rapport with each other,” Gayle said.

Gayle’s day-to-day duties extend far beyond the social exchanges she enjoys. She undertakes assessments for new referrals and helps to develop monthly programs of activities and outings. Much of her time is taken up with phone calls, emails and data management, and she works closely with clients, their families, health professionals and other stakeholders to ensure the centre delivers an effective service that promotes the wellbeing of its visitors.

“Clients are encouraged to maintain as much independence and autonomy as possible and this is promoted by giving choices and involvement in decision making and daily activities,” Gayle said.

She knows her work is important as it addresses a client’s social needs and provides an opportunity for interaction in a safe environment.

“This has a big impact on a person’s general and emotional wellbeing,” Gayle said.

Since social distancing measures were introduced, Gayle has been seconded to work on the Digital Empowerment project MercyCare is involved with. The 12-month Australian-first trial with Queensland University of Technology will investigate the impact of using digital technology on depression and loneliness in older people.

Although Gayle’s role has changed due to coronavirus, she still has the opportunity to help older Australians connect, and that’s what she says makes her work “so rewarding”. With group activities currently off the table, Gayle’s passion and commitment to connectedness is needed now more than ever.

For more information about the Digital Empowerment project MercyCare is participating in, click here.


Bonnie-social-(1).pngOne of the things Bonnie Pene loves most about her job as a carer at MercyCare’s Kelmscott Aged Care home is seeing the residents smiling with gratitude.

“We love our residents and the jobs we do for them… they are like family,” Bonnie said.

Those jobs include assisting residents with their everyday living, as well as being someone for them to trust and talk to – and luckily, Bonnie loves to chat!

She’s the type of person who’s missed on her days off – and the residents often thank her and call her a ‘good girl’; a term she finds endearing.

It’s this appreciation that makes Bonnie’s role so rewarding, and why she loves caring for seniors.

Keeping residents safe has been her focus over the past couple of months.

“We’ve all been feeling the anxiety of the pandemic and the challenges have been very real… but I’m proud of the way we’ve stayed one step ahead of our responsibilities as a team and prevented the virus from entering our facilities,” Bonnie said.

“I’m also proud of the comfort and reassurance we’ve brought to the families of our residents, letting them know their loved ones are in good hands.”