Renato Teodosio, the ACFI Coordinator at Elizabeth Jenkins Place Aged Care Centre located in the Sydney suburb of Collaroy, has his fingers crossed on both hands. He’s looking forward to the day when the pandemic is not the main subject of discussion, and everyone can move forward without disruptions. “I believe all of us working in aged care, or any other health department around the world, are looking forward to containing the virus, eliminating the virus completely, if possible, and putting it behind us,” he says.

Renato was nominated by his ACFI Manager as an exemplary health and care worker and as part of The Salvation Army Aged Care’s initiative to highlight such staff members in support of the World Health Organisation (“WHO”) International Year of Health and Care Workers. For the WHO, the year is a way of showing, “appreciation and gratitude for their unwavering dedication in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“Putting ourselves right at the front of a pandemic; the unknown, showcases how crucial, necessary and brave our role to society is,” Renato explains in reference to the dedication and sacrifice the millions of health and care workers continue to make and the International Year of Health and Care Workers. “And it is nice to know that some people, some organizations and some governments around the world are taking notice of it. Anyone putting others before them is indescribable and recognition is important and shouldn’t be forgotten.”

Renato says that the amount of training required in his role since the pandemic started has more than tripled from learning about new ways of socially interacting to new policies that were introduced or changing or modifying ways of doing things. “It is harder to work in aged care these days,” he says. “Every week, new information comes along, and the expectations are greater, and it feels like we are under the microscope at all times.” He is appreciative of being able to learn more about viruses, contamination, spread and prevention, however, and says that this learning will continue into his future.

He was inspired to become a health and care worker in aged care after caring for his late father who was diagnosed with cancer. He was young at the time and didn’t know much about sickness or taking care of people, but he learned a lot. “After his passing, I realised that I could help others in need and do a much better job next time round,” he says. “So, I decided to take care of others from then on.” He now has a Certificate III and a Certificate , as well as a Diploma in Nursing from Australian Catholic University.

“The most rewarding thing to me about my work is meeting people,” Renato explains. “Getting to know them, their story, the things they did and the places and obstacles they went through in life is fascinating. It’s like being part of a movie with so many chapters and characters. Being able to make them comfortable, happy and get a smile every time you attend or assist them is worthwhile on so many levels.” There are also challenges to his role, and they mostly come in the form of people who are in pain or reluctant to accept care. “You are defeated most of the time,” he says.

Renato explains that The Salvation Army is a centenary organisation which has been doing work around the world for such a long time, and he’s always heard “amazing” things about it. “I’ve seen them stepping in to bring hope and assistance to those who needs the most,” he says. “In my mind, being able to work with and for them and make a difference, even if at a small level - it may perhaps contribute or add to another 100 more years of good work.” He has some advice based on his work with the Army too: “Embrace others, especially the frail, and bring enjoyment to their journey,” he says.