Thirty Years of Care Work – and Still Going

By PSS | Posted: Tuesday November 28, 2017

When Leslie Speden took on her first job, at age 17, at the Gore children’s home Inglenook, she never imagined a 30 year career in aged care – albeit for the same organisation – awaited.

But when Inglenook closed temporarily for renovations in 1976 and she was transferred to Presbyterian Support Southland’s aged care home in Gore, Resthaven, she simply fell into a career that would go on to span decades.

“It was definitely a different experience… a bit of a shock really going from looking after the little ones to the elderly … but I kept at it and I really enjoyed it,” Leslie said.

Indeed, Leslie stayed on as a care worker at Resthaven even when Inglenook reopened. In March 1983 she left to have a baby, returning in 1987 – and she has been there ever since.

Over that time Leslie has undertaken shifts in the kitchen, in cleaning and helped in the laundry as and when required. But it is care work that she has come to love.

“I just love meeting the residents and their families,” she said.
“You do get quite attached, but you have to be professional and maintain that distance.”

Of course there have been many changes over three decades in the same workplace; some of those include the way laundry is done, the distribution of medication, training for staff and technology.

The deteriorating health of residents coming into care is also a trend Leslie has noticed.

“Residents come in with more needs now. When I started we really didn’t need to do a lot for them, they were often quite independent and just wanted us to chat with them. Now, there is a lot more physical work required of us, and a lot of health and safety requirements with that too – a lot of things we used to do are a no-no now. It is a very busy role.”

While 30 years may be a long time to stay in one workplace, Leslie says she has never considered another job.

“I have a good job, I have enjoyed it and I have stayed through thick and thin,” she says.

“All going well I will be here until I retire.”

Leslie was one of close to 70 PSS staff who were presented with Long Service Awards at the organisation’s annual awards recently, and one of two staff acknowledged for 30 years of service. 

Annette Allen, a care worker at Peacehaven Village, was also recognised for 30 years of service. 

CLICK HERE to read more about Annette