With so much negative attention on aged care within Australia, it is incredibly easy to focus only on the damaging aspects. Fortunately, there is some good happening throughout the aged care sector and this needs to be shared.
I was lucky enough to meet two amazing women who are doing just that, highlighting women in aged care who are making positive changes. Samantha Bowen, Founder of Acorn Network, and Amanda Terranova, Director of Marketing & Brand at Mirus Australia, shared with me how and why they started this amazing initiative and what they hope to achieve.
I have been following this initiative since it was publicly released. I’m continuously amazed and inspired by the women it features. For me, and I hope for all nurses and health care professionals, this project encourages us to reflect on those around us, why each individual is important and how one person can make a transformation.
On January 1, 2019, Samantha Bowen and Amanda Terranova started a hashtag inspired by Dr. Kirsten Ferguson’s 2017 Campaign #celebratingwomen. Samantha and Amanda were fed up with the negativity surrounding aged care and wanted to acknowledge the more than 80% of women in the aged care workforce in Australia.
How did #celebratingwomeninagedcare start?
“Over many late-night conversations about how we wanted to help and why the answer was simple for us. We both named so many women that we are proud to know, work with or have been inspired by in aged care. We were also driven by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency 2017-18 Data Snapshot including the incongruencies in women in leadership positions and still the gap in pay equity,” says Co-Creator Samantha Bowen. According to the World Economic Forum, it will be 118 years before women have the same career prospects as men.
What are you hoping it will achieve?
Acknowledge. Awareness. Advocate. Attract.
“When was the last time you were celebrated? We wanted the campaign to acknowledge that women were showing up every day in every way to work in the important sector of health care,” says Co-Creator Amanda Terranova. “And to drive awareness about the diversity and breadth and depth of roles available for health professionals. Finally to advocate for the people receiving care and attract the brightest minds and biggest hearts to the industry to identify and design the products and services of the future!”
Why is this important for aged care & how does this impact nurses?
The nursing profession is the largest single health profession in Australia, and continuing to shine a light on the opportunities in aged care is key. Promoting aged care alongside acute care, critical care, emergency and mental health for example, as a preferred choice, rather than a ‘Plan C’ is fundamental to growing the sector.
“Improving and building leadership pathways, early career support, and enabling and encouraging innovation is key to becoming a sector of choice. The #celebratingwomeninagedcare campaign has already showcased many women from around the world who began their careers as registered nurses or enrolled nurses and now hold chief executive officer roles or are social entrepreneurs. These examples should become normal conversations rather than exceptions,” says Amanda Terranova.
What do you think are the necessary steps in changing the culture of aged care in Australia and how can we become aged care champions in our own areas?
“You can’t be what you can’t see, was a driver for me a couple of years ago,” says Samantha. “As a young professional, I wanted to see others my age succeeding, leading, and having the opportunity to create change. I found it difficult to find this five years ago. When we celebrate others, we can also see ourselves and see how we can be part of shaping the future. We all need access to mentors and coaching from credible leaders. We need emerging leaders of all ages to be part of the future of aged care. Especially if we are to build a future we all want to grow old in.”
Evidence suggests that nurses are not seeking aged care as their top career choice out of university. Unfortunately, they are being discouraged from entering the sector by universities, their peers, and even the workplaces themselves. People are suggesting that they will have more credible experiences in Primary Health.
The #celebratingwomeninagedcare campaign shines a light on aged care as an industry where you can take the lead.
“There are great career opportunities and this sector gives you the opportunity to think outside the box, find your tribe, and build a better future for those we care for. There are so many nurses featured in our campaign who share their experiences with warmth, but also highlight their challenges. But Aged care is changing. It is evolving. It’s moving forward at a fast pace. Are you willing to join us?”