13 November 2018

A care-er for life: Meet Gary

A professional saxophonist and stand-up comedian, Gary’s talent took him to stages around the globe. But after his last performance, new responsibilities and a change of lifestyle lead the way to a new career with Just Better Care.

Just over 90 per cent of home care workers spend more than one year in the profession, with almost 70 per cent spending four years or more in their roles (The Aged Care Workforce, Department of Health, 2016). Gary, a Support Professional at Just Better Care Eastern Suburbs, has worked in the industry for seven years, and show no signs of slowing down.

Gary never knew he would change career paths. A professional saxophonist and stand-up comedian, Gary’s talent took him to stages around the globe. He performed for troops in the Middle East and on cruise ships travelling across the Atlantic.

You might have swayed to the sound of his sax as it played on your radio, or laughed out loud when he cracked jokes on TV. He was known as an ‘amusement engineer’. The crowds loved him, but the time came for his last on-stage performance. Rest assured, Gary was thrilled to perform his next role.

Gary’s sudden change in direction was prompted by the pending arrival of two new family members. When Gary received the news his wife was pregnant, and with twin boys no less, he made the decision to be closer to his family.

Over the moon that he would soon be a dad, he wanted to find a job where he could support his wife and children.

“I’ve been a professional entertainer my whole life and I loved it, but I wanted a job where I could spend time with my boys – take them to school and go to the park and play soccer,” he said.

“I also wanted a job where I could help people and make a difference.” Gary enrolled in a Certificate III in Aged and Disability Care and completed his training at a residential facility. Soon after, he was offered a position with in-home care provider Just Better Care, and he’s
been with the company ever since.

“I love the work I do – sharing people’s lives with them is so rewarding and it gives me the best of both worlds. Your customer gets the support they need, and you get the satisfaction of knowing you’ve made a difference. It’s a win-win,” he said.

“You’re there for pivotal moments in their life, and there’s something so special
about that.

“One of my customers can’t speak, but he can laugh. We sit and watch his favourite comedy shows while he eats lunch and share a chuckle together. Or we sit and do the crossword together. It’s all about finding out what your customer enjoys, and supporting them to make sure
they lead the best life possible.”

It’s a career that fits in with Gary’s lifestyle, and one of longevity. Gary has been working in community care for seven years so far, and says he’ll be doing it for at least another seven.

“It’s stable and flexible and arose during a time in my life where change was imminent. This is a long-term career for me, and more people should consider this line of work.

“It may not be for everyone, but the work is always so varied and it’s a job that really makes you feel good at the end of the day. It was the right choice for me and my family.”

Gary never lost his love of music and performing. He recently formed a band with friends and got back on stage to celebrate his 50th birthday.

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