Chris Hill committed to caring for others

Chris Hill, who is the clinical care manager of the dementia unit at Clare House Retirement Village in Invercargill.
Jamie Searle/Fairfax NZ

Chris Hill, who is the clinical care manager of the dementia unit at Clare House Retirement Village in Invercargill.

Chris Hill is well qualified to be clinical care manager of the dementia unit at Invercargill's Clare House Retirement Village.

She has been a nurse all her working life.

Hill, 62, is in her 13th year at Clare House after working at Rowena Jackson Retirement Village, Calvary Hospital and Southland Hospital's neonatal unit. 

She had time away from nursing to raise a family.

"From the age of 10, I always wanted to be a nurse ... that's all I've ever wanted to do," Hill said.

Receiving a nurse's uniform, with a stethoscope, for her 10th birthday further encouraged Hill.

Interestingly, when Hill was 12, she, her brother Gary and sister Glenda were in Oamaru Hospital at the same time getting their tonsils removed, 

Chris Hill was brought up in Oamaru and left Waitaki Girls' High School at 16. She had six months as a nurse aide before reaching the required age of 16-and-a-half to enter nurse training at the Oamaru Hospital.

Most of the training was done in the wards.

"You didn't have a lot of time in the classroom, it was hands on.

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"We lived in the nurses' home, had to sign in and sign out and had to be home by midnight at weekends," said Hill, who graduated as a registered community nurse after 18 months.

Training included how to lift things correctly because the hospital had no machinery to move heavy objects.

Hill recalled in her early days of nursing, that many patients spent most of their time in bed and bedpans were taken to them when required. Bed sores were common.

She saw change in the early 1980s when patients who could move around were out of their beds more often.

Nursing is a rewarding career, Hill said.

"It's different every day, you can work in different areas and you meet a lot of people."

Hill learned a lot from two former managers of Clare House - Nicola Keast and Christina Perriam,

"They were very supportive and good to work with." 

Hill is a gardener and has two tunnel houses and a glass house at home. Ninety cherry trees are in one of the tunnel houses.

"They need to be under cover to stop the birds getting to them." 

 - Stuff

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