Early on in her career in Aged Care, Peta Hennessey was inspired by her visits to elderly residents who still lived at home and also by those living in residential aged care centres. “During this time, I just loved hearing the wonderful and amazing stories of their lives and often how sad and difficult it can be growing old,” she says.

Peta went on to complete an Assistant in Nursing course and extensive training in Medications and Administration and wound management as well as Certificates in Aged Care and she has been working with The Salvation Army Aged Care for sixteen years.

“As a child and growing into my teens I was always aware of just how much an important and emotional role The Salvation Army plays during times of hardship and loss and this was quite evident during the Bush Fires and Floods plus how supportive they have been during the COVID-19 pandemic,” she says of The Salvation Army and how she has been inspired by them.

In working for The Salvation Army Aged Care, Peta say that she finds knowing that she has made a difference in someone’s life, to see them smile and know that they feel safe and have a voice are some of the most rewarding things about her role. Additionally, “Learning to listen to our elderly and mentally challenged residents is an absolute honour.”

There are challenges to working in Aged Care for Peta, however, and this concerns residents who pass on. “After many years of supporting residents in their last days I will never become used to losing a most loved member of our Salvation Army Family; they always leave with a part of my heart.”

This doesn’t detract from why she decided to work in Aged Care in the first place. “I have always believed that we could learn a great deal about humanity and survival during the toughest times from our elderly,” she says. “And how resilient they were during great times of adversity.”

The World Health Organisation has designated this year as the International Year of the Health and Care Worker, “recognizing the dedication and sacrifice of the millions of health and care workers at the forefront of the Covid-19 pandemic,” and Peta was nominated by her co-workers as one of The Salvation Army Aged Care’s exemplary workers.

“Not being able to give a resident or client a hug when they are upset has been extremely difficult,” she says of how the pandemic has impacted her work. “Also, learning to keep safe distancing and having to wear a restrictive mask each day.” 

Peta says that she has come to learn how to live with COVID-19 but that she is praying and hoping to continue to make a difference in the lives of our elderly and mentally challenged.

In acknowledging her nomination, Peta said: “If we as humans show love, care, respect and compassion during our daily lives it can truly make a difference to humanity.  An old saying that I live by daily is don't judge anyone until you walk a day in their shoes.”