Yelena is a passionate nurse, with an unexpected life story. Yelena has a degree in Mining Electrical Engineering which she completed in her home country of Turkmenistan (former USSR), located in Central Asia.
20 years ago, at the age of 34, Yelena and her family bravely crossed the wide expanse of ocean to make Australia their new home.
While studying the English language, Yelena sought a new career – to work in aged care. Work placement led to her discovery of Mayflower, and she joined the team as a student.
The choice to join Mayflower was easy for Yelena, with a friend and nurse making a strong recommendation.
“I had two choices for placement - one of my friends who was a nurse here said Mayflower was the best,” she says.
With change comes personal challenge and growth, and moving to Australia was a big adjustment for Yelena, her husband, and their two children.
“It was a big change in my life to come to Australia,” says Yelena, “and then when I decided to become a Personal Care Assistant, it was another big change.”
Yelena was inspired by her family to join the healthcare sector, and most particularly her love for her own grandmother back home.
“Some of my family had medical backgrounds – and I looked after my grandmother when she was sick,” she says.
Yelena has a heart for seniors and explains that personal experiences often mould how we feel about others, particularly those that we love and care for.
“If you have someone in the family that needs your support, you learn how important it is to give to other people your love and care,” Yelena says.
A special place to work
While working as a Personal Care Assistant, Yelena felt the call to broaden her skills and become an enrolled nurse, completing her studies in 2012.
“While working as PCA I met a lot of nurses and they encouraged me to upgrade my skills.”
Yelena worked closely with Maria Bernardo, our Executive Officer of Brighton, well before Mayflower was developed into the facility it is today.
“I worked night shift with Maria in the old building, many years ago,” she says.
It is often the little things that make a workplace rewarding and enjoyable, especially when it feels like family.
“It’s a different culture here,” says Yelena, “it feels like a big family. The residents are nice here too.“
Yelena also adds that teamwork really makes a difference. Staff across the home work together to bring the best support to residents in their care.
“Staff are positive here. Even on difficult days, people come and do their very best to look after the residents. They are reliable and provide quality care with their hearts.“
Forming bonds through sport
While Yelena has formed many special bonds with residents, she delights in talking about her friendship with much-loved resident Molly.
“It took time for Molly and me to get to know each other and form a bond,” she says. “Molly calls me ‘Dr Yelena’ - as a joke, of course.”
"From the moment I met Yelena I knew she was going to be a fantastic nurse," says Molly. "I have profound respect for her and honour her as a person."
The pair share a love of world sport, especially tennis and soccer and love to have a chat about ‘the big game last night’.
“Molly enjoys world sports, and I love it too,” says Yelena. “We always have something to speak about, especially around soccer and world tennis competitions!”
The pair were hoping to share time together while watching the upcoming Olympic Games which have been unfortunately delayed due to Covid19.
Building teamwork with orchids
Yelena’s hobby, nurturing beautiful orchids, has spilled its colour and vibrance onto the nurses’ station in Rennolds House at Mayflower Brighton.
Reminiscent of an orchid nursery, each plant has a name, and tells a story that is special to Yelena and her team. “The red orchid is Miriam, the pink one is Peter, and the white one is Gwen. Each one tells a story,” says Yelena.
Yelena explains that the first orchids were gifted to her by family members, of former residents, in remembrance and thankfulness for loved ones who were in her care. Others are from residents who have stayed at Mayflower for respite care, to show their appreciation.
Her love for orchids extends to her family home.
“My windows are covered in orchids,” says Yelena. “It is my hobby now. I love them.”
The hobby of nurturing beautiful blooms has even inspired other staff to join in, too. This is encouraged by Yelena who jokes, “I make other girls get into orchids too!”
With the love affair being a team effort, Yelena has seen improvements in blooms with a loving word to each one.
“I encourage everyone to speak to the flowers to help them bloom. I speak to them in the morning,” says Yelena.
The hobbies don’t stop there. Yelena also loves to give a warm hug to her family through cooking. “I love to make traditional Turkmenistan food, which is similar to Turkish cooking. Pilaf, a meat and rice dish, is my specialty.”
Thankfulness inspires happiness
Yelena shares a special message for people considering coming to live at Mayflower, with a special recommendation for her household.
“Welcome! Come to Rennolds House, Yelena will look after you!” she says with a brilliant smile.
And to residents and staff who have helped Yelena through the years - Yelena shares her gratitude. “I want to send thanks to all residents in Mayflower and all staff who have supported me through the years. It’s amazing how people can help you emotionally”.
“Life isn’t always easy, we have good days sometimes and we can have bad days, but the people at Mayflower are always there for me.”