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Diversity and Inclusion series: Ronalda's story

29 June 2020

"My childhood was so good I thought we were rich. When I grew up I realised we weren’t, we were just normal, but I felt rich," Ronalda said.

Welcome to our special series celebrating Diversity and Inclusion in MercyCare’s employees, volunteers and service users. Our stories are accompanied by Steve Wise’s remarkable photographs, that show how these ordinary, yet extraordinary, people are individually effecting change for themselves and the people around them. We hope you enjoy their personal stories.

Ronalda Cowcher - Former MercyCare Residential Aged Care Joondalup Service Manager

With her Scottish brogue and cheeky one-liners, Ronalda Cowcher has brought beautiful warmth
to MercyCare’s Residential Aged Care Joondalup.

Much of that affability stems from a “normal” and inclusive childhood in Glasgow.

“My childhood was so good I thought we were rich. When I grew up I realised we weren’t,
we were just normal, but I felt rich,” Ronalda said.

“I was brought up Protestant, but all my best friends were Catholic and when you come from Glasgow there’s a big divide between the green and the blue. I never, ever had issues.”

Ronalda can trace her heritage back to Margaret Crawford, mother of famous Scottish patriot William Wallace.

“My claim to fame is in my maiden name Crawford, a great Scottish name. When we trace my family history back we trace right back to Margaret Crawford. The Crawford’s were the smart part of the family. It was all downhill from there,” she joked.

Even as a small child, Ronalda knew she wanted to be a nurse.

“I’d draw cuts on all my dolls and put on band aids and I’d use lollypop sticks as thermometers. Now I’ve been nursing since 1973.”

She started in mental health before working at Inverness Hospital emergency department as a surgical nurse.

“Inverness Hospital is close to the ski fields at Aviemore which was full of Australians and New Zealanders breaking their limbs and arriving in emergency.

“They said you should come to Australia – you’ll love it. I thought – ‘well what an idea, why don’t I just do that’ – so I did.”

Ronalda loves her adopted country for its clean water, blue skies and diverse people.

“This facility here, MercyCare Joondalup, only
11 percent of the staff were born in Australia, which I think is fantastic.

“They all get on really well and work beautifully together. Plus, we’ve got the best residents.”

Ronalda loves aged care for the time it has allowed her to build relationships with residents.

“When you are in mainstream care, there is no time for relationships. It’s about getting you well and getting you out. Here in aged care you have time to build relationships.

“Older people have so much to give. Whatever is going on for them you have to get to their reality and try and make each day better for them.

“We need to give the residents what they individually want, not what we think they want, and I think that is where aged care is at.”

Ronalda would welcome with open arms further diversity in the residents at Joondalup.

“We are more than ready to take people from different cultures. Certainly, we have the staff from so many different cultural backgrounds to do it.”

Ronalda has worked hard for residents to be included in the fabric of community, whether it be through the intergenerational program with Belridge Secondary College, a local furnishing the Centre with weekly copies of British Magazine The People’s Friend, or taking residents to the local coffee shop.

“We want to see them become more a part of the community, and in return, for the community to embrace them.”

From her days sticking bandaids on her dolls, Ronalda has retained her passion for care.

“I’m happy. The day I come to work and I’m unhappy or don’t want to go in, is the day I walk away. Every day I am happy to come in here.”

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