Enrolled nurse, Christine Walsh was among 80 employees of St Agnes’ Parish celebrating a combined total of 1330 years’ service at the Parish’s Long Service Awards, presented during a special Mass.
Christine has worked for Catholic Care of Aged Care with St Agnes’ Parish for 40 years.
She started at Lourdes Nursing Home in 1978 and is now at Emmaus on Colonel Barney Drive in Port Macquarie.
Her association with the Parish goes back to her childhood when Christine attended primary and secondary school at St Joseph’s, when it was the only Catholic school in the Port Macquarie area.
“I have spent most of my life in Port Macquarie but live a short time in Sydney and Western Australia in the 70’s, returning around 1973,” says Christine.
“Dad’s sister was a nurse so he thought it would be a good profession for me, so when I came back I took his advice and trained as an enrolled nurse, under Matron Joan Ussher, at the old Port Macquarie Hastings District Hospital.”
“In 1978, I started working at Lourdes Nursing home in late 1978 and have been with Catholic Care of the Aged ever since.”
“I moved to Emmaus, as House Leader at Paul’s House, when Stage 2 of its development opened.
“As a nurse in Aged Care, I help people manage the conditions they are dealing with as they age.
“But it is more than just the clinical - you need to look after all sides of the person - their physical, emotional, mental, social and spiritual needs.”
Christine says she has cared for some wonderful people during her 40 years nursing.
“The residents are amazing people with such interesting stories and life experiences to tell,” Christine said.
“When you are nursing someone in aged care you are not just looking after the person you are actually looking after the whole family.”
When you are nursing someone in aged care you are not just looking after the person you are actually looking after the whole family.Christine Welsh
One of the Emmaus residents Christine looks after, Margaret Howard, who enjoys reading, knitting, painting and going to Mass in the chapel, is a good example of this in ‘person-centred care’ action.
Margaret says the special bond she now shares with Christine grew out of the relationships of trust the family had with the staff at Lourdes Nursing Home when her mother, Maude Landers, was a resident at Lourdes Nursing Home for a few years.
“Christine was only a young lass, just starting out as a nurse in aged care, when she looked after my mother in the late ‘70s,” says Margaret.
Taking up the story Christine says, “Marg, her husband Jack, and other members of Maude’s family used to travel from the Macleay Valley to visit her, as a result, myself and a couple of other staff got to know them and developed a friendship that saw us visit them on their properties near Kempsey.”
“When Jack was getting close to retirement, we sold our property and moved into a beach cottage at Lake Cathie and ended up living there for 25 years.
“Then about 18 months ago, I had a fall and broke my arm and couldn’t continue to look after Jack at home so we decided to move into Emmaus.”
“We’re looked after beautifully and, with Christine, it feels like I am being looked after by an old friend…. now that’s care,” says Margaret.
Christine says ethics in nursing is important and working for a not-for-profit organisation like St Agnes’ Parish, has been good because its service is about values not profit.
“During my career I have been very fortunate to work with some very good leaders at St Agnes’ Parish – visionary women like Anne Riley, Doreen Menary, Honor Morcom, Rowena Topia, Sue McCann and Joy Walsh,” Christine remembers.
“These women showed great foresight in keeping us up to date with new legislation, the introduction of policies and procedures, and all the clinical care requirements that go with nursing.”