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15 August 2023 | Aged Care

Lifelong learner RN Regina Huang awarded scholarship

Congratulations to Regina Huang, RN at St Andrews Aged Care, who is about to embark on a Graduate Certificate in Palliative Care thanks a scholarship from the Public Health Network Gold Coast. She is passionate about aged care and nursing. She started her career as a 15 year old! We are lucky to have you Regina.

“I work at Lutheran Services Aged Care in Tallebudgera on the sunny Gold Coast. I’ve been studying or working as a nurse since I was 15, and now I’m 30! I grew up in Taiwan and instead of going to a traditional high school I went to a boarding school for nursing. So nursing is 100% my passion. I graduated with a Diploma and have made my way up the ladder to become a Registered Nurse now. I’m really excited about a scholarship to do the Graduate Certificate in Palliative Care. In aged care, good palliative care is something so important – to the residents and also their family.

I’ve always been keen on learning. There’s been a lot of steps in becoming a Registered Nurse. But it’s funny being in management – being a Registered Nurse – sometimes it’s the small interactions that give you the real satisfaction and not the paperwork! I’ll give a resident their medication or pass them a cup of tea and they’ll give you this smile and say ‘thank you love’ and you just wish you could have this interaction all day.

But saying that, keeping on learning is important to me. I feel like I see where things can be improved and a great way to do this is just to be in a place you can influence things, improve people’s lives. I hope to be a nurse practitioner at some stage.

As I mentioned I went to a boarding school for nursing that was attached to a hospital. In a hospital, you receive the patients, they move onto the next stage and then they go home. Whereas in aged care, it’s the person’s home, so you feel there’s more positivity around that. We discuss care plans, residents choose the food they like and the activities they like to do. There’s just more happy decision making than in a hospital.

Being an aged care nurse is rewarding, as well as being challenging in a good way. You are very independent, you make a lot of decisions and if you need to, there’s a whole collaborative approach at hand. And you look after the whole person, which I love.

So when it comes to the end stages of life, those relationships you’ve built up are important. I got really inspired with some interactions I had with the SPACE team (Specialist Palliative Care in Aged Care) at Gold Coast University Hospital, which has a strong connection with the Gold Coast PHU (Public Health Unit).  The PHU is sponsoring my palliative care study. One subject I’m really looking forward to study is therapeutic communication because that conversation about death can be difficult. Because of my different cultural background, I do tend to observe that different cultures have different approaches, but I can certainly say most people have a reluctance to talk about death. Opening that conversation can be really powerful and make the next stage much better for everyone involved. People want to die at home and sometimes that home is in aged care. I still remember my grandma, the last thing she told my father was that she wanted to go home (from hospital) and die at home.

Many of our nurses and care staff at St Andrews – and across the industry too of course – are from different cultures, many from India and Nepal. So I am really looking forward to being able to share what I’ve learnt with my colleagues. My learning can be passed on, that is exciting.”

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