Sunita Shah works as a Registered Nurse (RN) at The Salvation Army Aged Care’s Elizabeth Jenkins Place residential aged care centre which is located in Collaroy in New South Wales. She decided to work in Aged Care because she says that the residents and her colleagues become part of an extended family. Sunita wanted to make a difference in people’s lives, and she says that it’s rewarding to make someone’s day. “Without a doubt, working in the aged care sector can become an extremely rewarding and fulfilling career,” she explains. “While the primary focus of nurses is of course treating ailments and maintaining proper health, there's so much more to the practice than the medical side.”

Sunita decided to become a nurse after she graduated from high school and she completed a Bachelor of Nursing from the Australian Catholic University. She wanted a career that was challenging and interesting and she loves learning new things. “In the nursing profession, you deal with many aspects of patient care, and I enjoy the variety in the routine,” she says. “As a nurse, I am always challenging myself to keep current on medical trends and training so that I can provide the best care to my residents. Every day as a nurse, I learn something new from my colleagues and residents, which inspires me to explore a deeper knowledge of the techniques and procedures I use.”

This year, Sunita was nominated for The Salvation Army Aged Care 2020 Nurse of the Year Award. The Award was created to celebrate all of the wonderful work that our nurses do and to acknowledge the World Health Organization’s International Year of the Nurse and Midwife. Sunita says that she feels proud to work for The Salvation Army because she is making a different in the community and to the lives of others. “Working with The Salvation Army is a career with purpose, where you can help society's most vulnerable as we care for people, create faith pathways, build healthy communities and work for justice,” she says.

Working as a nurse in Aged Care during the COVID-19 pandemic does have its challenges. Sunita notes the risk of becoming infected with COVID-19 and the subsequent risk of infecting her family members is one of the ways the pandemic has had an impact on the way that she works. There is also the stigma about the vulnerabilities of her job as a nurse and the restriction on personal freedom. “Despite having a professional obligation to care for the community during a pandemic, we have concerns about our work and its impact on us personally,” she says.

Nevertheless, when asked what some of her favourite things about being a nurse are, Sunita says that it’s the unique bonds she forms with her residents. “The things I love about being a nurse is dealing with residents and their families and helping them through what is often a difficult time for them is extremely satisfying for me,” she says. “You're not just taking care of residents, you're taking care of their families too.”