Staff gain elderly care qualifications

Six years ago Levane Palarao was a loans officer with Citibank in her home country of the Philippines, but after falling in love with New Zealand while on holiday she decided to take her career in a totally new path as a caregiver at Ashwood Park Retirement Village in Blenheim.

On Wednesday last week she and 11 other carers were presented with certificates from Careerforce after completing one- and two-year courses in caring for the elderly and those with dementia.

Levane, who has been at Ashwood Park five years, also went one better with a core competency certificate and will now be studying toward a national certificate in diversional therapy.

"We are very proud of all our carers for the time and effort they have put into their training," Ashwood Park owner and operator Ross Bisset said.

"We are also especially proud of Levane who will be going on to studying diversional therapy."

Careerforce workforce administrator Andy Bunn, who was on hand to present the certificates, said that this was the biggest group of graduates from one company that he had seen this year.

He praised the staff for putting in the effort to increase their skills and knowledge.

"This is a challenging job, but it is something we love, otherwise we wouldn't still be here and this training definitely makes us better at our work," said Fiji-born carer and team leader Wati Raisua, who has been with Ashwood Park for six years.

Working as a caregiver or nurse is often described as something to which one is called, but it wasn't something Levane thought she would be doing while working in the financial world in Cebu City in the Philippines.

"I was just in Blenheim visiting my sister and I loved New Zealand so I decided I wanted to move here," explained Levane.

She quit her job and moved to New Zealand, soon getting a position at Ashwood Park through a friend.

She admits that she had no experience caring for the elderly and didn't know what to expect but has fallen in love with the job.

"I really love it, I loved it from the start," said Levane.

"It is challenging but it is also very rewarding and you make really good friends with the residents."

Her passion has been clear as she has worked hard towards her studies and after completing her diversional therapy course wants to become a qualified nurse.

"This is what I want to do with my life now," Levane said.

The Marlborough Express