The sum of individuals who care is really what makes a difference in the lives of older Australians, and there is no shortage of passionate people in this year’s LASA Excellence in Age Services Awards for SA/NT.

Individual Award Finalist Roshna Raut, a 23 year-old woman from a Nepalese background, obtained her Certificate III in Individual Support – Aged Care and now wants to commence a nursing degree.

Roshna has been a support worker with Larrakia Nation Aboriginal Corporation in Darwin for 12 months and is adored by all her clients. She develops close bonds with her clients, encourages them to become socially active, helps develop their independence, and goes the extra mile should there be issues at home.

Nurse Practitioner in Aged Care Keyur Anand, another Finalist in the Individual Award, is developing a virtual reality palliative care education platform to help support staff and volunteers effectively communicate with clients and families around end-of-life matters, in a culturally sensitive way.

Working at St Anna’s Residential Care Facility of the Croatian, Ukrainian and Belarusian Aged Care Association of SA, Keyur is particularly interested in supporting cultural awareness and cultural values in palliative care.

Next Gen Young Leader Award Finalist Tom Gray from Xtra Aged Care goes above and beyond to provide high quality and compassionate care. The Physiotherapist and Regional Lead has established wax bath therapy and a walking group, to improve individuals’ strength and mobility and improve wellbeing. Tom personalises his treatments to incorporate people’s biopsychosocial needs and always takes time to stop and chat with clients, no matter his busy schedule.

The LGBTI Connect Team from ECH, a Finalist in the Team Awards, assists people aged 55 and over from the LGBTI community to access advice and aged care services in a culturally safe way. Employing five team members who identify as LGBTI, the service plays a vital role in the organisation’s commitment to being inclusive and offering support in a culturally appropriate, responsive and sensitive manner.

The service was co-designed by ECH and a group of 13 older LGBTI people as part of a project speared-headed by ECH Diversity Manager Robyn Lierton. ECH is the first South Australian organisation to attain a Rainbow Tick Accreditation.

The Maintenance Team at Willochra Home in the mid north of South Australia is another Finalist in the Team Awards. Their Sunshine Garden, a sensory garden in the Dementia Wing, has been one of their most successful initiatives over the past year.

The garden design was based on research into how to provide the best dementia-friendly, restraint-free environment and what kinds of scented flowers and herbs to plant, along with real grass rather than synthetic. Residents are often seen walking in bare feet on the lawn, smelling the flowers and herbs, and have demonstrated a greater level of response and calmness.

Helping Hand Aged Care is a Finalist in the Organisation Award, with their innovative student program supporting workforce development. Students undertaking certificate, bachelor or PhD studies across vocational education, allied health, nursing, medicine, pharmacy, engineering or business are engaged to work alongside clients and staff as both learners and contributors.

The organisation supports over 500 students per year, which helps provide inter-professional understanding of the needs of older people and acts as a pathway for future employees.

The LASA Excellence in Age Services Awards aim to promote and recognise excellence across the diverse and dynamic fields of endeavour in the age services industry. The five categories are: Organisation Award, Team Award, Individual Award, Rising Star Award and the new Next Gen Young Leader Award.

The awards celebrate the passion and achievements of organisations, teams and individuals in the service of older Australians, and seek to increase public confidence and community involvement in aged care and services.

“We are incredibly proud of all our finalists across Australia. They demonstrate the calibre of age services employees who devote themselves to the heartfelt care of our parents, grandparents and great grandparents, each and every day,” said LASA CEO Sean Rooney. “Every one of them deserves our gratitude.”

The 56 finalists across the five categories from SA/NT, NSW/ACT, QLD and WA, with the VIC/TAS Award winners previously announced.

SA/NT Award winners will be announced on Aged Care Employee Day on 7 August, with a live broadcast at 3:00pm (AEST)/2:30pm (ACST).

Aged Care Employee Day is a national campaign to acknowledge the role of aged care workers in the lives of our older people, by saying #ThanksforCaring. More information about the day and how to participate is available at agedcareday.com.au

Media contact: Nick Way 0419 835 449 nickw@lasa.asn.au