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Community & Business

13 December, 2022

Donna’s ambition - making our elderly and in care feel at home

Feeling at home and valued where you live is all you can ask for, and that’s exactly what the new Director of Aged Care and Disabilities at Gilgandra Shire Council, wants for her clients.

By Emily Middleton

Donna Dobson stepped into the position back in August, after a council organisational restructure created the new role. Originally titled Director of Community Services, the job is now focused primarily on aged and disability services in Gilgandra.

“My role is to advocate for our aged and disability services in the council, to make sure we are compliant to legislative requirements, and to lead the aged and disability teams to deliver our best practice and outcomes, that are beneficial to the clients in our care,” Mrs Dobson explained.

A typical workday for Mrs Dobson can vary from cups of tea with clients, to liaising with members of parliament to raise matters of concern. Mrs Dobson understands the communities concerns, and assures she is doing everything she can to ensure the best care possible.

Across the health industry many regional communities are facing the same challenges in recruiting staff.

“We’re trying to be very creative about how we engage staff,” she said.

“Things like housing and schooling are definitely an issue for us, it’s impacting on our ability to attract workers.

“So we’re working across the board with the council, and both state and federal governments, on some of those things. We’re looking at immigration, scholarships, looking for opportunities to find grant funding that might assist to attract staff.”

However, she said, things are looking up a touch for the aged and disability sector in Gilgandra Shire.

“We have managed recently to attract two senior staff specifically for Cooee Lodge Hostel in the last few weeks. My goal is to make age and disability in Gilgandra, the employer-of-choice; I want to ensure we have well-functioning teams so people want to work for us. So, we’re looking at how we do that, and what may attract people to the industry,” she said.

The council, she said, is doing its best in a field with serious labour shortages and heavy-compliance requirements nationwide.

“We need to be competitive in the market, and that is definitely a difficulty because we’re not a very wellfunded area, particularly aged care.

“There’s a lot of governance around how we spend funds, so we have to be cautious to be competitive,” she explained.

Mrs Dobson understands that we all have parents, grandparents, and loved ones that are important to us and just how pinnacle their care is.

“They’re so important, it shows the compassionate side of our society, not just aged people, but people with disabilities as well. It’s important to have services that support people, no matter where they are in life,” she said.

“The most rewarding thing for me, is when somebody in our services refers to the service that they receive, whether it’s in a residential setting, group home, meals on wheels etc, that they feel valued.”

“And when a resident or a client, patient, consumer, etc, says they feel like they’re ‘home’ in this service — then that, to me, I feel like we’ve done a good job.”

She also welcomes open discussions and encourages anyone in the community with ideas, concerns, or issues, to come and say “hello”.

“I certainly don’t want to be behind a closed door,” Mrs Dobson concluded.

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