The difference with aged care nursing

Krista Marsh had a keen interest in nursing from an early age but knew nothing about aged care nursing. 

In 2011, after the completion of her Year 13 exams, Krista's mum Beverly told her daughter that if she wasn't going to study, then she needed to get a full time job. Krista applied for the position of Caregiver at Bupa Windsor Park Care Home, Gore, when she was 17, and hasn't looked back since, later going on to become a registered nurse for the home.

Krista explained that the caregiver position at Bupa Windsor Park Care Home gave her the practical experience in aged care from a young age. "Those four years in the caregiver role before training to be a nurse were sort of like my extra-long gap year, a gap year where I actually learnt a lot," she says with a smile.

The decision to take on a three-year Bachelor of Nursing degree at Southern Institute of Technology was a difficult one for Krista. Traveling to and from Invercargill each day meant she sometimes needed her mum Beverly to help her finish her part-time cleaning job while Krista was busy studying. "It was an intense three years of study, work, study. But the Bupa Scholarship of the first year's paid fees really helped me out when I was a broke student," Krista said.

The bond with the care home continued throughout her studies with Krista picking up holiday and weekend shifts. After graduating in 2017 as a registered nurse, Krista returned to the Gore care home that had embraced her from the beginning, albeit in a slightly different capacity to first time around. Krista feels that nursing is a very special career with the responsibility of both residents and the team. She explains that if she was a nurse in a hospital, it wouldn't give her the same fulfilling relationships that have been built up over a long period of time with her residents.

"I have got to know my residents so well. I know their families and I've seen their grandchildren grow up. They've told me the most interesting stories about their lives. You just don't get that closeness in other areas of nursing," Krista said.

One story which has stayed with the young nurse was when she cared for a resident for six years. The resident's health had been in rapid decline and when the time came to say goodbye, Krista sat with the family and joined in to reminisce about the good times they'd shared.

"In aged care, it's not about saving lives or performing fancy procedures. It's about helping to make an individual's journey the best it can be. It was a privilege to have been part of her journey with the people who meant the most to her and it's these connections that make me love nursing in aged care," Krista explained.

Krista says the support she received from her mum, sister and partner was immeasurable, as was the support from the Bupa Windsor Park Care Home team. "I'm grateful to all of them, but I'm especially thankful to mum who pushed me to get that full time job after my exams in the first place," Krista said.