The Covid-19 pandemic is what gave Shayne Harper the big push he needed to change careers.
Having worked as an inflight service coordinator with Air New Zealand for five years, and before that Qantas for 10 years, he had got comfortable with the lifestyle, but his previous vocation kept returning to the front of his mind.
“I live right next door to the Ryman village here in Lynfield and had been watching it being built as I drove past every day. I often thought maybe I should apply but I just didn’t have time. I could already see myself coming back to caring though.”
Shayne had completed the first year of his nursing degree before being persuaded to give the airlines a try, but with planes grounded due to the pandemic and a pending redundancy, he finally took the chance to follow up.
He went online to the Ryman careers website and submitted his application for caregiver in the Special Care Unit. The following week, he got a call from Michelle Barnard, the Assistant to the Manager, who conducted their interview over Zoom due to Level 4. He didn’t have long to wait for an answer either:
“I found out the next day that I’d got the job. She said, ‘can you start at 9am?!’”
Shayne embarked on a steep learning curve as so much had changed since he had worked in care in a hospital setting 15 years ago.
“When I was caring before it was all done on paper, but here we type it straight into the tablet or computer,” says Shayne. The management style was different too. “Back in the day you would have the matron and it was very hierarchical. Now it’s a real team and everyone’s input is equally valued.
“There’s been so much for me to learn there has really been no time for me to feel upset about my redundancy because I’m so focused on this. I’m just very, very grateful.”
Shayne hadn’t experienced dementia care before but is impressed with the Ryman approach, where staff work more like a care companion enabling or guiding residents to be as independent as possible in a more homely environment rather than being focused on getting through a list of tasks.
As the village has moved from Level 4 to Level 1, Shayne has enjoyed working without being head to toe in personal protective equipment (PPE) and seeing the interactions between the residents and their relatives.
Now with his eye firmly on finishing his nursing degree, he is relishing every day at his home away from home. “I actually love it here in special care. It’s just so homely, sometimes it’s hard to leave! My meeting earlier today was about being family and treating our residents like they’re your aunt and uncle.”
He adds: “I couldn’t think of a job that’s more rewarding than this, going home at the end of the day knowing you have made someone happy.”