Finding my purpose through Pastoral Care

2 October 2023

By Philippa Vette, Administration Assistant at SCCQ Stretton Gardens Retirement Estate.

Making a meaningful difference in the lives of others has always been important to me. Having previously worked in client relationship sales roles, I was always interested in taking the time to listen and understand my clients and then support them with suitable options. However, in a sales-driven role, this was not always celebrated or valued.

As COVID lockdowns continued into 2021, I decided to leave it all behind and look for something where valuing human life and having a positive impact would be welcomed. I began working for SCCQ in the Customer Insights team and immediately I felt a deep connection with the values of SCCQ. I enjoyed speaking with clients across Home Care, Retirement Villages and Aged Care to listen to their SCCQ experience and learn how we, as an organisation, might do better.

It was during the last call of the day, when I spoke with a Home Care client living in the family home and receiving cleaning services from one of our Support Workers each fortnight. Together, we worked through the standard questions but I noticed something in the client’s voice so I asked the question, “Are you ok?” Immediately the client admitted they were very lonely. I listened and then asked if I could arrange someone to visit and see what other supports might be helpful. The client was very happy for this and relieved they’d spoken up as they hadn’t wanted to be a nuisance. I drove home, still impacted by the call. I was thankful the client would have a more positive experience and grateful I could do something to make a difference, but was it enough?

An online search led me to a Pastoral Care course to be completed across twelve months with online intensives, written and video assignments and one hundred hours of placement within Aged Care.

It was exactly what I was looking for. I enrolled and spoke to then Head of Pastoral Care Services at SCCQ, Julie Walden. Julie wholeheartedly embraced my decision to study and arranged for my placement to be completed at Stretton Gardens and Duhig Village.

In the meantime, I had moved into a part-time administration position at Stretton Gardens Retirement Estate. I loved the face-to-face contact with residents and I enjoyed contributing to the positive, vibrant village community. Many residents encouraged me in my studies and with the ongoing support from SCCQ Village Manager, Cameron McAlpine, I completed my studies and graduated in May 2023.

Studying Pastoral Care has expanded my understanding of people and the complex challenges they face. Learning how to support and serve residents and staff everyday as well as during some of the most difficult times of their life has given me a deep sense of purpose.

In such a busy world, being available to listen is a valuable resource, one that is encouraged and valued at SCCQ. My next goal is to complete Therapy Dog and Handler training with my Golden Retriever, Ziva, to put a smile on the faces of our Aged Care residents at Stretton Gardens.