Bringing the sunshine: How Ellie makes life sweeter at Golden Grove
Ellie’s warm, cheery personality is just the right fit for her current role as a Lifestyle Assistant. Whether she’s calling bingo, painting residents’ nails or sitting down for a good old chat, Ellie offers genuine connection and care. And our residents pay her back in volumes with stories, advice and plenty of laughter. But when Ellie first volunteered with us in 2019 as a fresh-faced 19-year-old, it wasn’t instantly like that.

Finding the right fit

On Ellie’s first day at Helping Hand, the three-storey Golden Grove Care Home felt like a maze of branching corridors. Starting her journey with us in Hotel Services where the roles are fast-paced and busy, Ellie quickly learnt to find her way around.

Nowadays, she is perfectly tuned into the rhythms of life at Golden Grove and the habits of each resident who calls it home. In fact, she plays an integral part in making Golden Grove feel like home – something that seems to come naturally to her.

It’s a skill Ellie honed early in life. As a teenager, Ellie often visited her grandmother, who was like a second mother to her, in her northeast Adelaide care home.

“I spent a lot of time with her there, and I just felt I was good at looking after her and that maybe caring for older people was something I wanted to do.”

Many years ago, Ellie’s grandmother was actually a nurse with Helping Hand herself, and Ellie initially intended to follow in her footsteps. Upon finishing school, Ellie started studying nursing, but she soon found it wasn’t quite the right fit.

“A lot of people who study nursing are interested in all the medical procedures. But me, I’m not so interested in that; I just want to look after people!”

Now, as part of our Lifestyle team, that’s exactly what Ellie does. While she might wrinkle her nose at the thought of her grandmother being proud of her, she acknowledges:

“It is cool to have that little bit of history behind you. My great-grandmother worked for Helping Hand too. I think my grandmother would be happy I’m doing this sort of work, being a nurturing person like she was.”

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Bringing the laughter

Alongside her caring nature, Ellie has a gift for elevating those around her. She still works occasional shifts in Hotel Services but her creativity and humour shine through in the games and activities she helps organise as a Lifestyle Assistant. Ellie excels at bringing out joy in the residents, but it’s also a very deliberate tactic.

“Aged care can be very serious, so it’s good to have a bit of fun while you’re at work – and there’s definitely some characters living and working at Helping Hand! I love to have a joke with the residents or sometimes I’ll do a silly dance to make someone laugh. I like to think I can bring a bit of sunshine to people’s lives.”

Ellie says she feels lucky to work in a team of people who work hard but are always supportive and there when you need them.

“It’s a nice community. I like the people I work with; we’re a good team. I’ve built some strong relationships, and I just love the residents here. They are good fun people who’ve lived interesting lives and I like hearing about them.”

Being there to care

Of course, it’s never all fun and games in aged care. It can’t be, and Ellie knows that full well. It’s part of her strong motivation to do the work she does.

“Seeing any of the residents have a down day is difficult. But being there at those times is very important, and it’s also a privilege. I just think, if that was my grandparents, how would they want to be treated?”

Ellie is a passionate advocate against the stigma older people in our communities face.

“Some people may think that older people just sit in a chair and don’t do anything, but they’ve been building this country for so long. They’re a very important part of society, so it’s nice to be able to look after them. Aged care is not an easy industry to be in, but it’s a very rewarding one.”

Ellie’s advice to anyone thinking of joining us?

“If you have that caring instinct and want to look after a good group of people, then aged care is for you.”

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