Seven years ago, Teresa decided she wanted to do something different, and she’s never looked back.
After many years working in the the bridal industry, Teresa wanted a complete career change. Before that point, she’d never considered aged care, but she couldn’t be happier with her choice.
“Never in a million years would I have thought I would be working within the ageing community,” says Teresa. “Now I can’t imagine doing anything else.”
Teresa’s relationship with Mayflower started while undertaking her training placement to become a personal care assistant.
“As soon as my placement at Mayflower was finished, I was offered a position in our Memory Support Unit, where we provide specialist care for people living with dementia.
“I worked there for four years and absolutely loved it!” says Teresa.
“Even though you are faced with daily challenges, it is so rewarding to give back to those who have fought for our country and to those who have contributed so much.”
New ways to care
After a couple of years at Mayflower, Teresa was diagnosed with Stage 2 Breast Cancer.
“This really made me reassess my life,” she says, “and the realisation that we are only on this earth for a short time, and everyone deserves to have a better day than the one before.”
“While going through this hiccup, I thought how much I would like to get to know residents outside of their personal care needs. To achieve this, I studied Leisure and Health with two other Mayflower employees,” says Teresa.
Teresa moved into a lifestyle assistant role, which gave her a whole new way of providing care, with a focus on stimulating, engaging and connecting with residents based on their personal interests and life experiences.
Teresa took to the role like a duck to water and was soon encouraged to step up to the next level and lead the lifestyle team.
“Mayflower is a great place to advance your career,” says Teresa, “I became a lifestyle assistant and soon after a coordinator.”
Love where you work
Teresa is glad she chose Mayflower for a career in aged care and couldn’t recommend it more.
“It’s such a fun place to be, it doesn’t feel like a job,” she says, “and working in lifestyle gives you a great excuse to dress up too!”
“I love putting a smile on someone’s face and making their day,” says Teresa, “it’s the most rewarding part of my day.”
“I love knowing our team is making a difference in resident’s lives, in a fun and engaging way, centred around their personal interests.”
“Just popping into a resident’s room for a 5-minute chat, can really make a difference to their day,” says Teresa.
An impression shared by many, Teresa feels there’s something special about Mayflower Brighton.
“It’s lovely, it’s like a home away from home,” she says. “There’s a warm and inviting atmosphere and I feel we are all one big multi-cultural family.”
Fun and individuality
The lifestyle team at Brighton are a lively bunch, and Teresa never knows how they are going to surprise her, or the residents, next.
“I love my team because they always come to work with a smile on their face, and I am always surprised. For example, Debbie came to work with blue hair just to brighten up the day for our residents, and our team too,” says Teresa.
Teresa finds each lifestyle assistant brings something unique and special to the team.
“Each team member has different talents that complement each other. For example, one of us is technical, another sporty, another loves gardening, one loves to decorate for special events, and another is very crafty,” says Teresa.
“It makes for a great mix of talents which helps us really support residents’ individual needs.”
Throughout her time with Mayflower, Teresa has experienced some touching and heart-warming moments with residents.
The special moments she shares with retired ballerina Anna and entrepreneur Marjorie, of whom she has special relationships, are held particularly close to her heart.
“I always show Anna the latest tap-dancing routine I have learnt,” says Teresa. “Then Anna provides feedback and will often dance with me. Doing this with Anna means a lot to me as it helps her to remember her times as a dancer. “
The special bond goes beyond dancing, and the pair have plenty to talk about.
“Anna and I have similar interests,” says Teresa. “We both love old films with actors such as Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, and we love fashion and good manners too.
“Anna always greets me with a big smile and hug, which I cherish so much as my grandparents passed away when I was a child,” she says.
Marjorie is well-known for her South Melbourne Dim Sim stall at the South Melbourne Market. In 2017, Marjorie was featured in the markets 150th Anniversary news story, and many Melburnians have enjoyed this delicacy over the years.
Teresa’s bond with Marjorie goes back many years.
“I’ve known Marjorie since I was a personal care assistant,” says Teresa, “we have had so many special moments together.”
Teresa and the Mayflower team enjoy seeing Marjorie’s face light up when reminiscing about her time in the market.
“When we mention South Melbourne Market, and those famous dim sims, Marjorie always smiles,” says Teresa “and it is a great way to start a conversation with her.”
Teresa recalls the special moments she has shared with Marjorie, singing and smiling together.
“We both love singing ‘You Are My Sunshine’, and I love seeing her beautiful smile light up her face when we do,” says Teresa.
A full life
Teresa lights up when she talks about her family, having been blessed with a long and happy marriage, which reads just like a fairy tale.
Teresa, originally a country girl from Echuca, married her high school sweetheart Jason.
“I can’t imagine life without Jason, we met in Grade 3 and started dating at age 17. We have done so much together,” she says.
“Before having children, we travelled and lived in London, and over the past few years we have been lucky enough to give our children the experience of travelling outside of Australia.
“We have two boys Spencer, 21 and Max, 13, a 17-year-old sausage dog named Willis, and Clyde our three year old ragdoll cat,” she says. “Our home always feels full of life and love.”
Teresa’s hobbies include her weekly tap dancing and maintaining her treasured bonsai’s.
“I have quite a collection ranging from newly planted bonsai to extremely old,” she says. “One is over 50cms high.”
Teresa also loves sewing and knitting – one of Mayflower’s most popular activities, especially during winter.
And when you can combine your hobbies with your work – you have really found something special.