My journey through Access. From support worker to nurse with Lilly Evans.
It's tough being young and having to make a decision on what career path you want to work towards. For some the choice comes naturally. For young Lilly Evans, a newly registered nurse with Access in the Hutt Valley, she isn't on the original path she thought's she would be on. 'I wanted to be a chef. I have a real passion for cooking and thought this is what I would pursue at college. Then I had some work experience in a professional kitchen. It was full of angry people shouting at each other with lots of stress and I thought this isn't worthy. I don't mind stress but for something more worthwhile.'
Even though none of her family had ever been in nursing or care professions Lilly knew that was a far better path to follow. 'The one piece of advice I would give to others looking at this career is to be a support worker first! I was with Access for two years as a support worker, while I was doing my training , and it was invaluable. You could clearly see the difference between those nursing students who had done care work and those that hadn't. I still remember the first time I saw an old person naked and had to do personal cares. But now I don't even give it a second thought as you become desensitised. That exposure to the less glamorous side of things really helps with the fundamentals and makes progressing through the roles easier as you gain more confidence.'
'Before I joined Access, after seeing an advert at Whitireia Polytechnic, I didn't realise just how big the organisation was. There are literally thousands of support workers and that is just with Access. It makes you realise just how many people are reliant on our care in their homes and that's not even counting those in hospitals or rest homes.'
We asked Lilly what challenges she has encountered during her time with Access? 'Dementia clients are definitely the hardest. With one lady I assisted I needed to convince her every single time over the space of about two months, what a shower was and why she needed to have one. It would take 45 minutes until I could finally encourage her to cooperate. But it's also extremely rewarding when you get through to people in that situation and they come to trust you.'
'I've found great inspiration in seeing people who are at their most vulnerable, suffering bad health or recovering from big surgeries, overcome their personal circumstances. You discover how there are always people out there worse off than myself. I've grown to focus on what's important in life and have a real appreciation for good health and preventative action.'
So where would Lilly like to take her career? 'Nursing is a broad career but I'd like to work with poorer communities and for those who don't have access to clinics. Certainly some parts of Africa and South America appeal to me and even some of the more remote regions of north Canada in Inuit communities. I am currently doing my NetP qualification and hoping to develop into a wound specialist. I think for anyone looking to go into nursing support work provides the fundamental experiences you'll need. Plus you get to understand people as individuals and see them in their own homes, which is important to them. It's funny too how it's the little things in life that can be both challenging and rewarding, like helping a lady to have a shower.'