Donna – Helping Hand

A career with compassion: A glimpse into Donna’s impactful career

Donna’s journey to Helping Hand started under the most improbable circumstances – at a quarantine facility in Howard Springs. Now, as our Residential Services Group Manager, she’s leading the way in creating operational change across a number of our aged care homes. We sat down with Donna to hear about her career journey and what it means to her to be part of something bigger.

 

Watch Donna’s story

 

Silver linings in quarantine

In 2021, Donna found herself at a crossroads, uncertain about her next career move. She had just returned to Australia after a trip to her homeland in Scotland. While in quarantine in Howard Springs in the Northern Territory, she stumbled across a Quality Manager role in Whyalla that sparked her interest.

“I was really excited about that role, so I contacted the recruitment agent immediately,” says Donna. “A couple of days later, while I was still in quarantine, I had an interview with Helping Hand, and I came out of that conversation thinking, I can work for this organisation because what they’re talking about is exactly what I’m looking for.”

With a strong background in the healthcare sector, Donna knew she wanted to continue her journey in aged care and saw a role at Helping Hand as the perfect opportunity to make an impact and be part of something bigger.

Donna

“You get to a point in your life where you actually want to do things that are important to you, and you want to do it in an environment where there’s mutual respect and recognition. So, I rang Helping Hand back a couple of days later and said, ‘Yes, I could work for your organisation because I hear your values and they match mine.’ It’s funny how sometimes, things just all work out like that.”
Right from the start, Donna played an instrumental role in the transition of Kindred Living in Whyalla to Helping Hand. This strategic move secured the employment of over 200 local staff and laid the foundation for a bright future in aged care services for the entire region.
“Looking back, I think, how lucky I was to be part of something that provides aged care services for an entire community. The small part I played within Helping Hand actually helped secure two aged care homes in the region, and meant staff living in Whyalla had jobs. That’s incredibly rewarding work.”

A compassionate leader

Donna’s brilliant career journey is a testament to her passion for making a difference in the lives of older people. At Helping Hand, she has not only grown in her role but has also become a respected leader who is guided by strong values and an unwavering commitment to creating positive change.

“I’m now a Residential Services Group Manager,” Donna explains. “I currently support two care homes in Whyalla, one in Port Pirie, Jamestown, Clare, and Mawson Lakes. My role primarily involves supporting and empowering our Residential and Care Service Managers to provide safe, quality care to our residents.”

Prior to joining Helping Hand, Donna worked as Director of Nursing with Country Health SA Local Network for 17 years. This rich history in the healthcare sector, along with her recent experience at the Care Inspectorate in Scotland, means Donna brings the right level of insight and knowledge to her role at Helping Hand.

“My experience of assessing care homes in Scotland gave me a different perspective and made me realise the importance of quality outcomes for residents. It really broadened my thinking and made me more aware of the bigger picture.

“People often point out that I have a different leadership style – one that nurtures and brings people along. At first, I questioned if that was okay, but I realised I value the relationship and compassionate approach to leading staff and supporting residents more than anything else. At Helping Hand, I’ve been able to express myself and influence change without any confrontations. That’s the difference of working for a values-based organisation.”

Leading the way in aged care

In the past year, Donna and her team have been leading the way by implementing better aged care solutions for those who need it the most. This includes trauma-informed care for those who have suffered institutional or other out-of-home care in the last century – a group known as Forgotten Australians.

Donna

“It’s a very exciting project for us,” says Donna. “Our two Whyalla care homes are part of eight aged care homes in Australia participating in this program. We’ve been implementing new systems and processes to help us identify some of those barriers for people coming in and seeking care. By June 2024, we hope to be one of the first aged care homes in the country to achieve Specialisation Verification for Forgotten Australians.”

It’s people like Donna who make us who we are. What we do and the way we do it wouldn’t be possible without the effort and compassion of every Helping Hand team member. That’s why we value each individual moment and every client under our care.