A day in the life of Juniper nurse Pam
Posted on January 10, 2024
Registered Nurse and 2023 Excellence in Residential Care award recipient Pamela Nyironga has been told ‘that’s crazy’ and ‘I don’t know how you do it’ when she explains that she works in aged care.
“As an RN in aged care – administrating medications, injections and all that goes with nursing – is part of the job. It goes deeper than just nursing. In aged care you need to be real, you need to be kind and take the time to truly understand someone,” Pamela said.
“At university they talk about empathy, but it is just a word. What they don’t teach you is true compassion and kindness and how to express that.”
Pamela’s focus on care stems from her career trajectory. She joined Juniper as a multiskilled carer in 2015 working at Juniper St David’s Residential Aged Care Home in Perth’s inner suburbs, before studying to be an Enrolled Nurse. She recently graduated as a Registered Nurse.
She’s completed work placements across emergency, orthopedics, coronary and mental health.
“In hospitals, when you knock off, you just go home. Aged care becomes your second home. Some of the residents at Juniper St David’s have been here since I started, and you become attached. In other places it’s like a conveyor belt of patients. I love that in aged care there is that connection, that attachment,” she said.
“It’s so important we take the time to get to know the residents so they feel comfortable. It’s really helpful to learn from them and their family about their cultural background so you can weave their stories into their person-centred care plan.”
That connection also extends to the team.
“At the start of my shift is handover and meeting with the multiskilled carers, who I have the utmost respect for. You need to know who is in the kitchen, who’s cleaning. A cleaner who has been working for 20 years is going to know a lot.
“As an RN you work as a team, on the floor, leading by example. You need to be approachable so when any staff notice changes with our residents, they come and tell you.”
There are two favourite times during Pamela’s day – mealtimes and bedtime.
“Growing up in Zambia our family would gather around the table and talk about everything. Mealtimes at Juniper St David’s takes me right back. You see all the residents together, sometimes we have some residents singing or dancing. I just love that part.
“As a nurse it’s also a great place to observe – is someone not eating, are they struggling to swallow, are they in pain. By observing small changes you can take a proactive approach.
“I also love bedtime. Often they’ll give my hand a squeeze and say ‘you look after yourself when you go home’. It makes me feel so fulfilled.”
Pamela’s mother was her inspiration to pursue nursing. A midwife in Zambia, she would often solo deliver six babies on nightshift. She proudly saw Pamela studying for her diploma before she passed away.
Pamela’s mother wasn’t far from her side when accepting her award at the WA Nursing and Midwifery Excellence Awards this year, where in a serendipitous moment Pamela discovered her mum’s Zambian nursing registration card alongside the perfect earrings for the night.
“I tucked it in my purse and then when I accepted the award, a little part of her was with me,” Pamela said.
“The award has allowed me to believe in myself more. So many people have congratulated me, and some have said it’s inspired them to study nursing. I’m honoured and humbled and I really hope it does inspire people to take up nursing in aged care, just like my mother inspired me.”