Karina Rieniets

What is your role?

Interim Director Aged Care, Grampians Health Ballarat

How long have you worked in aged care, and what is your background? 

I am a Registered Nurse with over thirty years’ experience – I first worked in Aged Care back in 1988 as an Enrolled Nurse at the QEC Ballarat (when all the Residential Aged Care facilities were on the Ascot St site) whilst undertaking my RN studies at the then Ballarat College of Advanced Education (now Fed Uni). Grad year at Base Hospital in 1990, worked across medical, surgical, theatre, ED and Critical Care Unit until doing my Critical Care Certificate at the Base in 1993. Mid 1994 went to Alice Springs and worked in ICU for 12 months, then went over seas traveling in mid 1995 and worked in private hospitals in greater London area, predominately in ICU. I’ve been back at Ballarat Health Services – now Grampians Health for nearly 26 years. On return, I was working in Critical Care Unit (Clinical Nurse Specialist, Associate Nurse Unit Mmanager), After Hours Coordinator /Patient Flow Coordinator role, projects, Clinical Governance Coordinator/ Consumer participation and Consumer Liaison roles in Centre for Safety and Innovation.  

I worked for 2 years in community aged care as Transition Care Program care coordinator. In February this year, I took a secondment to Stawell as acting Director Acute at Residential Care Services and have just commenced as interim Director Aged Care while recruitment for Director Aged Care Grampians Health occurs. Have also worked for several years as casual RN in local private aged care facility. 

Why do you love working in aged care? 

I have always been able to connect with older people – I think the ability to connect has been built on my relationships I had with my own grandparents, and extended family members. I think the older generation have helped to build an amazing country and have many stories to tell, and plenty still to give, if you let them.  

You get a sense of real achievement during your day when you have provided personal care to a resident, have taken the time to listen to them, talk to them about their own personal stories, and even getting to know their families.  

As a nurse, working in Aged Care gives you the opportunity to provide holistic care every day – I see that aspect similar to the work I did in ICU – yes there’s the technical aspect of ICU but if you have a ventilated patient you are responsible for their total care needs, and bonds and relationships are formed with family as you care for them and their loved one during a difficult time. With Aged Care, you are responsible for coordinating and providing for the clients or residents total care needs, working in partnership to meet their goals, forming bonds, and relationships with family as well.  

What relationships have you formed at work (with team or residents)? 

I’m still getting to know the Aged Care team at Ballarat, although I have worked with a few of the team on other capacities at Ballarat over the years. What I can see is that we have a group of people who are dedicated to providing the best care they can to our residents, and are looking for support to provide the best care they can, in a very difficult time with COVID, staff shortages and increased regulation of Aged Care. 

What’s a memory you’d like to share from your time in aged care? 

No one memory – lots of memories of just being there for a chat with someone when they needed a chat, memories of knowing that I’ve helped a family say goodbye to their mum/dad/nan/pa and provided quality end of life care to that resident.  

I also have some great memories of some of my Transition Care Program clients and their families and the creative ways I’ve worked with them to help them to meet their health care goals, keep them out of hospital and provide them with the ongoing support they need to either stay at home or transition to residential care. Shopping trips, coffee breaks and ‘Macca’s runs’ with/for clients always a highlight