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Mum, massage therapist and independent support worker: Meet Yana

Yana always wanted to be a nurse when she was little. She’s worked in the medical industry for over 20 years, starting as a kitchenhand and progressing to offering in-home care and working as an emergency nurse. Now, she runs her remedial massage therapy business while supporting clients through Mable. This is her story.

Recently I spent a week in Airlie Beach with a lady, aged 88, with dementia. Her daughter wanted a week’s holiday and was looking for some support for her mum. I’m Melbourne-based and was able to bring my partner and three-year old son with me.

At first, my client seemed like a typical nursing home patient sitting at home all day long, watching TV. She’s Mauritian born, and speaks English and French. I decided to involve her in all our activities. We played the fish magnet game, she helped peel vegetables when I cooked, she even kept an eye on my son if I was busy for a moment. The dog running around made her laugh, too.

One day, I put a music video on. It was a Mauritian band, performing on a gigantic TV screen. I could see the difference in my client. Her face changed and it was like a window opened. She’d been sitting there not doing anything and before I knew it, she was singing along in French and dancing. It was really moving to watch.

When it comes to clients with dementia, I’m a big believer in doing what they know. I like to find out about my clients’ past and do activities they used to enjoy. Sometimes it’s knitting. Or talking about their school years. This lady can’t remember yesterday but when I put on the old French movies, I could see she was following them. She even taught me a bit of French in the week we were away. I think I made a difference.

“I have a choice to take the job or not take the job.”

It’s good that we have the option of choosing each other. Because I’m also running a massage therapy business, I like my independence. I don’t like being told what time to come to work and that’s why working as an emergency nurse became difficult.

“I’m definitely doing this for fun and a bit of extra cash.”

Now, I set my rate and I know what I’m worth. We can negotiate and I know that my client’s package goes further. Where an agency charges home care clients up to $84 an hour, employees only get $22 per hour. So, clients are getting a much better deal.

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