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When a spinal injury ended the intensive care nursing career she'd enjoyed so much, Albury's Nicoline Maritz went searching for another role that would be as challenging and fulfilling. She found it in aged care.
"I had to change my direction and I tried a few different things but then I was appointed to my first position in aged care as a clinical manager and I just fell in love with it. I felt the same type of feelings I felt about the ICU," Ms Maritz says.
"Aged care had the same care component that I'd found in ICUs. There's a special bond you develop with the patient or resident. The only difference is you get to focus on those relationships longer in aged care with both the residents and the families."
Today, 14 years after her entry into aged care, Ms Maritz has taken on her next challenge, as the new care manager at Calvary Albury Residential Aged Care home.
Just over a month into her new role, the South African-born, now passionate Albury-Wodonga resident, said she's focused on working with her team, the residents and their families to create a home that everyone feels proud to be a part of.
"I've worked in aged care for a long time now and find it just as rewarding as when I started," Ms Maritz said. "Our role is really to try to let our residents be the best they can and it's really a privilege to be able to do that.
"It sounds corny but for me the most rewarding thing is seeing a happy smile. If a resident says good morning to me and they are having a good day that really means the world to me."
Growing up in regional South Africa, Ms Maritz's love of caring was forged early in her childhood on her family's small farm. Her father was passionate about animals and their home was always a haven for injured wildlife.
She headed to South Africa's capital, Pretoria, to begin her nursing career and quickly discovered it was working in Intensive Care Units that she enjoyed the most, particularly in cardiac care. At just 24, she became the youngest ever Nurse Unit Manager at the time.
After migrating to Australia in 2001 with her engineer husband, Ms Moritz first worked in the cardiothoracic unit at a Sydney hospital where she was also appointed to a board to give input into a new hospital development.
The couple both felt the pull to return to the country and after her husband landed a job with REX Airlines in Wagga they made the move to regional Victoria, eventually making their home in Wodonga where they've lived for 17 years.
"I love every moment of living here," she said. "It's just a gorgeous area and beautiful people. In the beginning I did go to the city quite a lot but now I can't wait to return - this is our home absolutely."
Ms Moritz says her background in hospitals had been invaluable in her second career in aged care.
"Working in aged care requires a different mindset to working in a hospital but is also a really challenging career," she said. "It is fast-paced and so satisfying, particularly the bonds you form with residents and their families."
Being part of a dedicated and positive team all working towards one goal is also part of the job Ms Moritz loves.
"I've found Calvary to be so supportive, it is a really forward-thinking organisation," she said. "Everything I need is always at my fingertips. I can raise something and I've never had anyone say it's not possible. It's always, 'Yes let's work on that, what do you suggest?'."
One of the big challenges is recruitment and Ms Moritz urges anyone considering a career in aged care to grab the opportunities it offers.
"I think many people don't realise what a good career you can have in aged care - how diverse it is and how many opportunities there are in different areas," she said.
"I really enjoy seeing my staff growing and developing their careers and supporting them to do that. There is so much good happening in aged care and it's an exciting and also very rewarding career choice."
To find out more about the opportunities available to join the team at Calvary Care visit calvarycare.org.au