Leilanie Sagun decided that she wanted to become a nurse when she was in grade school. She was about ten-years-old at the time and her Dad had an accident and sustained a deep cut to his finger which started bleeding profusely. “I was the one who provided first aid and I remember I was very calm, and the sight of blood didn’t scare me at all,” she says. “It was at that moment I knew I wanted to be a nurse. I always find it rewarding to be of service to someone that is in need.”

She began her studies in the Philippines where she passed the Philippines Nursing Licensure exam and she began practicing immediately at the age of 20. By the time she was 25, she moved to New Zealand to pursue an opportunity there where she enrolled in Contemporary New Zealand Nursing Practice. She completed the course to become registered to work in New Zealand. Leilanie now holds licences to practice as a nurse in three countries. Her journey as a nurse in Australia began three years ago and now, she is the Centre Manager at Woodport Aged Care Centre.

The flexibility in working hours was one of the things that initially attracted Leilanie to aged care and she loves the industry. She says that it offers variety and that there is so much more to the practice of being a nurse in aged care than the medical side. “You’ll interact with residents throughout the day, developing relationships and providing emotional support,” she explains. “The residents often need someone to confide in, help with an easy task or simply provide a friendly smile. Sharing a cup of tea and conversation goes a long way to making a resident’s day more enjoyable.”

This year, due to the pressures of working on the frontline of the COVID-19 pandemic, has been challenging. Leilanie says that the pandemic has had an enormous impact on all Australians and notably on the health and aged care professions but that everyone has a part to play to help tackle COVID-19. “For most of us, this means social distancing and washing our hands,” she says. “But for aged care workers like myself with jobs that revolve around caring for society’s most vulnerable, this means working on the frontlines of the COVID-19 response. Everything we were doing before COVID-19 has been ramped up. We have to try and fill the horrible void of residents not being able to see their loved ones. The void, of course, cannot be filled, but we do the best we can.”

These challenges are in addition to those already implicit in the nursing profession which Leilanie says have changed over time, but she also notes that the career itself remains true to those who are motivated to serve others. In terms of her favourite things about being a nurse, Leilanie cites several. “I love caring for other people,” she says. “It’s something I’m good at and have always been good at. I love listening to resident stories. Everyone has their own story to tell – we just need to listen. I also love that everyone is so different in nursing and has their own style, knowledge and experience and be a team together.”

Her biggest inspiration is her family, she says, as they keep her motivated to be a better version of herself. “They are the reason my feet are always anchored on the ground.” Leilanie also feels “blessed” to work for The Salvation Army. “The Salvation Army values are my guiding principles on how I perform my work and how I interact with others,” she explains. “Working for The Salvation Army also means I get to work with an amazing team that are nurturing and supportive.”