“People should be able to live the best life they can”

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“People should be able to live the best life they can”

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As a house companion for seven aged care residents, Mandy Armstrong cooks, cleans, and helps others live the best life they can – and she wouldn’t have it any other way.

Caring for others is something Mandy Armstrong is passionate about. In fact, it was her own experiences in New Zealand when her mother came to the end of her life that inspired Mandy to become a hands-on carer.

“I have always worked in aged care,” says Mandy, 52. “I moved to Australia from New Zealand with my family about 10 years ago, but even in New Zealand I worked in aged care but then I was in administration rather than a hands-on role with residents.”

Mandy says that both her parents were diagnosed with cancer and passed away when they were reasonably young. Her mother went into palliative care at the age of just 67. The dedicated caregivers who looked after her mother inspired Mandy to seek a similar role.

“We lived in Christchurch during the earthquakes and because a lot of facilities were damaged mum had to go into an aged care home instead of a hospice,” recalls Mandy. “Just seeing how much it meant to those caregivers that mum had the best end-of-life experience that she could really resonated with me. I really believed that I could have a role like that and make a difference for other people.”

Mandy joined New Direction Care at Bellmere in Queensland four years ago and she has been a house companion ever since. She works in one of the facility’s 17 houses, caring for seven residents, who are all diagnosed with varying stages of dementia.

“I have been on the other side, as a family member of someone in care, and I have seen how stressful it can be for families and I am very passionate about what I do,” says Mandy. “I also find it extremely rewarding and fulfilling. It’s the bond I’ve formed with the people I care for. They are like a second family to me.

“I spend a lot of time with them, and I get to know what they like, what they don’t like, almost everything about them, and because of that closeness, I want them to have every opportunity to live the best life that they can, while they can.

“Sometimes, people might need a little help to make those choices but the ability to make those choices means such a great deal.

“If they can have a say in what they eat for dinner, what time they get up, what time they go to bed or even what they watch on television, then those decisions have a big impact on your quality of life. And that’s what it is all about, making sure the residents live the best lives that they possibly can.”

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