At a time when most people his age were retiring, Richard was thinking about beginning a new career.
In his mid-70s, after a successful career high up in Human Resources and University student counselling, Richard decided to look into becoming a nurse. “I had a strong interest in health for a number of reasons. So I thought, I’ve got time now, I’ll do a nursing degree.”
Richard (centre) with clients from Parkhill
Richard did well at university, but found his age was a barrier to gaining the necessary experience on a ward in a hospital. His dream of working as a registered nurse had to be changed somewhat, and he started looking in other areas.
He worked for a while as an Assistant in Nursing at a mental health hospital, but this year, at age 80, Richard decided to look into community care roles. “So I searched for what was available and I found HammondCare,” he says.
After some rigorous interviews and physical tests – “I had to lift weights and run around, do push-ups and squats. I thought, I’m glad I go to the gym twice a week!” – Richard was invited to take on a casual role as a carer at our day centre, Parkhill, in Manly.
Richard was thrilled. “I just think HammondCare is a wonderful organisation. I spent a lot of time exploring it, and the more I looked at it, the more I found I liked. It’s very satisfying to be playing a small role in this great organisation.”
Older than a number of the clients who attend the day centre, Richard brings a loving, warm presence to the group.
“I’m here helping them with their activities, day to day care, providing company and I’m there when the Parkhill bus takes them home.
“This morning we were playing bingo, yesterday there was a video program with gentle exercises, primarily we go on bus trips to places like Balmoral, or we go for walks, sit outside in the sun and talk, do quizzes and laugh.”
Richard’s been with us for a couple of months now and says he’s loving his new job.
“I have a rich spiritual life, and a chance to express the caring aspect of that is great. It’s a special place here and the clients like it. I’m thoroughly enjoying Parkhill.”
Although Richard could be proud of his youthfulness and vitality, age is not something he likes to focus on. “I’ve never felt old,” he says. “I feel at least 15 years younger than I am. I work out for 1.5-2 hours at a gym twice a week. I’m just very fit and I don’t take any medications. My mother lived to 101, so I’m really enjoying continuing to work.”
And on staying youthful, he says, there’s no great secret. “I have very good genes and good health, I’ve been very fortunate. I’ve also had a really active life. I’ve always found there are interesting things to do and I’m probably fortunate I don’t have to go looking them. Opportunities are out there. Life is so rewarding,” he says.
Would you like to work for HammondCare? We're currently looking for Community Care Workers in Northern Sydney. You can find out more here.