Andrea Allott is village manager at Bupa’s Ballarat Retirement Village in Rangiora. INsite asks her about the path she took to get into this role, what she loves about her job, and what she’d like to see change in New Zealand’s aged care and retirement industries.

INsite: How did you get into the role you’re in now?

Andrea: My first real introduction to the aged are industry was when I was living in Ireland and I did a bit of voluntary work at the local community hospital. I especially enjoyed the one on one contact and helping with activities. When my Irish husband and our four daughters moved back to New Zealand in 2012, I worked for two years as a health care assistant. This was a valuable experience for me as I learned so much; I now have so much respect for the hard working people in these jobs as I know first-hand how difficult the job can be at times. But also it can be an extremely rewarding job… just a smile can be all it takes. From there I applied to work as an activities person in the newly opened Ballarat care home in Rangiora. I loved this job – again, a very rewarding role. When a vacancy came up in the Bupa village next to the care home I applied for the role as Village manager and was successful. I’ve been Ballarat’s village manager for two years now and cannot imagine doing anything else. It’s a wonderful job.

INsite: What does a typical day at work entail?

Andrea: My day is so varied. As I’m the only staff here I have to wear a few different hats! Most days I need to spend some time in the office keeping up with reports and answering emails and enquiries etc. Every day I’ll be organising the activities for the residents, and I’ll check up on residents who are unwell or may need some assistance. Some days I’m driving the van taking residents on an outing. There never seems to be a dull day!

INsite: What do you love most about your job?

Andrea: I love the planning and execution of the activities for my residents. I try to bring a few different items in each month. I find food brings residents together so we have regular morning and afternoon teas, and lunches. I also love the one on one time I get with my residents – they have such interesting lives and some great stories.

INsite: And what are the most challenging aspects?

Andrea: Some days are crazy busy and it can be hard to juggle everything at once.

INsite: Have you taken any training or professional development which you’ve found particularly helpful to what you do?

Andrea: When I worked in activities at the care home I found the dementia training so valuable. You learn to try and see the world through the eyes of a person with dementia. I feel more people need to have a better understanding of dementia and how it can affect those families and individuals who struggle every day with this disease.

INsite: If you could change one thing about New Zealand’s aged care or retirement industries, what would it be, and why?

Andrea: I’d love to see older people more valued by society and in turn for those who work with them in care homes and retirement villages to be valued for the significant contribution they make in giving residents a great quality of life.

INsite: When you’re not working, where can you be found?

Andrea: Usually in the garden. On a Friday afternoon I’m often driving home from work planning the jobs I have for the weekend and hoping the weather will be fine. If it’s a cold or wet evening I love nothing better than curling up in my favourite chair in front of the fire with my herbal tea and a good book.  Sometimes neither happens as I’m busy running around with my daughters and their various activities!

INsite is looking to profile a wide range of people working in New Zealand’s aged care and retirement industries. So if you would like to be profiled, or you have a caregiver, cook, cleaner, RN, manager, activities coordinator or gardener who might be interested, then get in touch with Jude at editor@insitemagazine.co.nz.

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