Some people find their calling at an early age.
For some, it comes to them as a character in a kid’s storybook, or as a uniformed hero flashing through a childhood memory.
For others that epiphany, about what they were put here on this earth to do, doesn’t happen until much later.
For Rick McCluskey, it took 65 years.
Rick is a Community and Home Support Services Personal Care Assistant for Orbost Regional Health.
What that means is Rick helps people in our community that need help - maybe they’ve had an operation recently, or need a hand as they get older with looking after themselves.
“We help people who want to stay in their home be able to stay in their home, to keep their independence,” he said. “I see my role as basically filling in the gaps - doing whatever a person needs to stay in their home and be healthy and happy, so they can live how they want to live.”
Personal Care Assistants provide care for patients who are unwell, elderly or living with a disability by helping with daily activities like feeding, bathing, dressing, running errands and routine housekeeping.
“Everyday life. We help them do it.”
This “jack of all trades” kind of job is perfectly suited to someone like Rick, who at this stage in his life has had a wide range of professional and personal experiences.
Shearing shed rouseabout, barman at the bottom pub, mine worker in WA, building trades, hardware store.
In a way it makes no sense that, in his 60s, Rick became a community health care worker. In another way, it makes all the sense in the world.
“This feels like me,” he says, pausing to reflect on the remarkable fact that this is true. “This is the best job I’ve ever had, I absolutely love it. It’s very rewarding. Incredibly rewarding.”
Talking to Rick about his work as a carer in Orbost, the genuine joy and emotion he feels about the work he does is never far from the surface. This is a man who clearly is doing something he is incredibly passionate about, and grateful for the impact he is having on the world.
“This is a good community. In my role I can help those people in this community that need help. This is one way I can contribute.”
“It means a lot to me. And I think it means a lot to them.”
Rick says when a family member first suggested to him three years ago that he give being a Personal Care Assistant a try, he had his doubts.
“At my age, I didn’t know how I’d go,” he said.
But he soon found his years of life experience were actually a great asset in the work.
“Because of my age, I can relate to many of the people I serve,” he says. “I understand the challenges they are facing, I can often relate to what is important to them. There is definitely a role for older people in this line of work.”
In addition to the emotional rewards of doing a job that has such a profound impact on people in need, Rick says that community care work has also been a perfect fit for him financially.
“It’s great - you can work flexible hours, do weekend work if you want it,” he says. “There’s a lot of variety in the work, and you can work as much as you need to, and fit it around other jobs you have. Whether you’re semi-retired or starting your career or somewhere in between, there’s a lot of flexibility.”
“I never thought I would have done something like this, but I’ve loved it from the word go. I definitely plan on doing this until they make me retire.”
If Rick’s story resonates with you, maybe you’d want to give this kind of work a try?
There is always a need for Personal Care Assistants in Orbost, as well as home help and home maintenance workers, doing tasks like basic home maintenance, shopping for food, and cooking.
If you want to know more, give Community Home Support Services Manager Kylie Morgan a call on 5154 6650, or email Kylie.Morgan@orh.com.au.
Or, have a chat with us at the Gippsland Jobs Expo in Bairnsdale on Thursday 24 August! We'll be there, 9.30am – 2.30pm at Cremin Hall, 38 Pyke Street, Bairnsdale.