Sulochana Bajracharya, a Care Service Employee (“CSE”) at The Salvation Army’s Burrangiri Aged Care Respite Centre, grew up in Nepal as part of a large family where she was taken care of by grandparents and other elderly people in the community. “I have always bonded well with elderly people back home,” she says. “I feel they have immense wisdom, experience, and messages for us. Although they have been through various stages in life, they still have the same warmth, grace, and optimism towards the hustling and bustling generation.”

When she was young, her father was hospitalised for acute pain for several days and she visited him regularly. The nurses, wearing their white dresses with matching white caps patterned with a red or black stripe, inspired her with their tireless work to help those who were also unwell at the hospital. These childhood experiences, combined with her mother’s sister being one of the first nurses in Nepal, ultimately prompted her to embark on a career as a Registered Nurse. This decision would lead her, in future, to become a health and care worker in Aged Care, where she now sees herself as a member of the extended family of the residents for whom she cares for.

Sulochana is currently studying a Diploma of Nursing and she has completed Certificate III in Aged Care. In Nepal, she completed the three year Proficiency Certificate Level in Nursing before volunteering and working for various local hospitals and community organisations as a registered nurse, and she completed an Honours Degree in Health, Well-Being and Social Care in the United Kingdom. After arriving in Australia, she studied a Master of Social Work before undertaking a work placement with The Salvation Army Aged Care in Sydney, where she was offered a job.

She began working at Burrangiri in 2020 and she explains that the COVID-19 restrictions, precautions and rules were challenging then because, for instance, the bus trips with Burrangiri residents and visitors accessing the Centre were limited. “In 2021, I’m looking forward to a COVID-19 restriction-free workplace and to grow further within The Salvation Army,” she says. She was nominated by her Manager as an exemplary health and care worker, in conjunction with the World Health Organisation designating 2021 as the International Year of the Health and Care Worker, which recognises the frontline workers like Sulochana who have dedicated themselves to supporting others during the pandemic.

Burrangiri, located in the Australian Capital Territory, caters to the needs of elderly people in the community when their carer or their caring support system is in need of temporary relief. The Salvation Army’s mission and vision, the working environment, Sulochana’s team at Burrangiri and her residents or clients inspire her work, she says. “This profession allows you to help people at their most vulnerable. Although it can be challenging, the reward of making even a small positive difference in at least one person’s life is the greatest reward working in this field.”