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People Spotlight - Narelle Sturm, Deputy Residential Manager, The Haven

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Seeing the smiling faces and greetings from the residents.
Hearing the staff’s positive chatter and banter with the residents and colleagues.
Seeing the friendships between residents.
Seeing the quality care provided by staff.

These are the things which give Narelle Sturm joy when she goes to work each day. Narelle is Deputy Residential Manager of The Haven in Wagga Wagga and is also a Registered Nurse. Narelle shares her story.

Tell us a bit about yourself?
I am married with three children - Alexander aged 10, Eli aged eight and Emily aged six. We have a dog, cat, fish and three spiders (definitely not mine they are Eli’s passion). He has a tarantula, black house and a wolf spider! I love reading, watching movies and spending time in the garden. I enjoy visiting and spending time with family when I can in South Australia.

We live about 45mins from Wagga Wagga in a small town called Henty. I have been living in Henty for nearly three years. I like living in a more rural setting. I enjoy the drive to Wagga and back each working day. It is the perfect time to prepare myself for the day and to debrief and reflect on the way home.

How long have you worked at The Haven?
I have been at The Haven for 12 months. My initial role was in Quality and Education - another real passion of mine - and now I am acting Deputy Residential Manager.

What inspired you to be a nurse?
I always loved helping people and wanted to make a real difference to others. I took six years to complete my university nursing degree as I had 18 months off to reflect if it was really what I wanted to do. During my break I worked as a carer in a nursing home. I kept asking all the RN's what inspired them to be nurses and what were the highlights of their careers. Their responses and passion for nursing gave me the inspiration to keep going and finish my degree.

I have been a RN for nearly 18 years now. I have had a wide range of nursing experience and each experience has had its rewards and challenges. I have worked in hospital, community health, general practice, at a snail care farm for people living with dementia and now in Residential Aged Care, firstly as an educator and now as acting deputy. During my health career I have always kept a hand in aged care as it is my real passion as a nurse.

What do you like about working in aged care?
It is a wonderful field of nursing. I love hearing the life stories of the residents and their history. We have a wonderful way of celebrating coming into life but we do not always show that same joy to those who are completing their journey. Aged care is where you get to give back to people who have given great things in their lives and really care for who they are in this moment.

Tell us about The Haven?
We are based in a great rural city which has a lot to offer. We are a large Home with beautiful grounds and each room has a window that allows a view to these garden spaces.

I have the privilege to work with all the different roles in the Home. We have wonderful staff who have great compassion and care. I love seeing the care they provide and how they take time to ensure the residents are having their best day whatever their situation. We all have a vested interest in ensuring each resident is getting the care they deserve. We have a very active recreational program so there is no time for boredom.

How do you think you can help residents during this uncertain time?
The biggest barrier I see is with self-isolation. For some residents they have not been able to be part of the wider community as they once were with outings and being taken out by their families. Having the addition of Ola, our new pastoral care worker, has been incredibly timely to assist with the extra support needed.

Using WhatsApp and Skype has been a real highlight for the Home and residents. It has enabled remote catch ups that were not available even before Covid. One of the resident’s families commented that their mum was able to have a catch up with a cousin. This would never have been able to happen before as they both live in aged care homes - but with the virtual visit they have been able to see each other again. Our lifestyle and activities team have been wonderful in making this all happen.

For more information about The Haven visit