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Building Resilience and Excellence in Aged Care: Noriebelle Rubillar’s Journey and Leadership

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We recently met with our cultural health champion of the FiND Kalinga, Noriebelle Rubillar, who shared insights from her extensive nursing career. Noriebelle is the General Manager of Somerville Gardens Care Community, which is home to 130 residents and nearly 200 dedicated team members. With 18 years of nursing experience, she has a solid understanding of both the clinical and administrative aspects of her role.

Noriebelle’s journey began with earning her nursing registration through a bridging program. She then worked in a hospital acute ward for four years, gaining essential hands-on experience. Her commitment to professional development led her to pursue extensive training, seminars, and workshops, which prepared her for roles as an Aged Care Funding Instrument Consultant and Clinical Manager before becoming the General Manager.

Currently enrolled in a Senior Leadership Program, Noriebelle continues to enhance her leadership skills. She emphasizes the importance of continuous learning and development in her career, which has been instrumental in her success.

Throughout her journey, Noriebelle has gained valuable experience in patient and resident care, as well as clinical operations. Her passion has always been to improve care quality and operational efficiency. She is committed to creating a supportive and effective work environment to ensure the success of the care community.

When asked about her motivation, Noriebelle shared, “My passion is to provide the highest quality of care to our residents and to support our team members in their professional growth. I believe that a positive and efficient work environment leads to better outcomes for everyone involved.”

Noriebelle’s dedication to her role and her team is evident in the high standards she upholds at Somerville Gardens Care Community. Her leadership and commitment to excellence make her an inspiring figure in the field of aged care and a true cultural health champion of the FiND Kalinga initiative. Below is the transcript of the interview.

Resource allocation and rigorous safety protocol implementation

The pandemic brought some of the toughest challenges not only for me but for all healthcare workers in our careers. Ensuring the safety and well-being of residents and staff became the top priority during the challenges of changing guidelines and the threat of COVID. Infection control protocols were updated, and continuous training and support were provided to dedicated team members.

Maintaining communication with residents and their families was crucial, so virtual calls, letters, photos, and window visits were introduced to keep connections strong.

Close collaboration with the Department of Health and local health authorities like the South Eastern Public Health Unit ensured access to the necessary guidance, support, and resources to manage outbreaks effectively.

Throughout these efforts, the focus remained on fostering a safe and supportive environment for everyone in the care community, highlighting the resilience and commitment of the entire team.

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Virtual support networks and community engagement initiatives

During the COVID lockdowns, the mental health and social well-being of elderly residents became a top priority. To combat feelings of isolation, the care community introduced virtual and window visits with loved ones, organized engaging activities like crafts and music therapy, and provided access to virtual counselling services. Staff also increased one-on-one interactions to offer companionship and support. Care communities reached out to families for letters and videos, creating a sense of connection and care.

These strategies, rooted in compassion and empathy, can be adapted within the Filipino community by embracing technology for virtual connections, promoting mental health awareness, and fostering a supportive environment through cultural activities and community involvement.

Strong family bonds and community-oriented care

In my experience, the Filipino community’s resilience during the pandemic, especially in aged care, stems from our unique strengths and values. Filipinos have a deep-rooted value for family and intergenerational support, leading to a strong sense of responsibility and care for the elderly within families and communities. This cultural respect for elders fosters a sense of dignity and worth among the elderly, enhancing their overall well-being.

Additionally, the concept of “Bayanihan,” or community solidarity and cooperation, is deeply ingrained in Filipino culture, leading to mutual aid and care during challenging times. Filipinos are known for their adaptability and resourcefulness, which have helped us navigate the pandemic’s challenges, especially in finding innovative ways to support the elderly.

Moreover, our (Filipino) community’s historical resilience in adversity, combined with a positive outlook and strong faith, has provided a source of strength and hope during difficult times. Overall, these unique strengths and values within the Filipino community have significantly contributed to their resilience during the pandemic, particularly in aged care and supporting the elderly.

Enhanced preparedness through collaboration and proactive leadership

Looking ahead, the Filipino-Australian community can better prepare for future public health crises by focusing on several key areas. Firstly, enhancing health literacy and promoting preventive healthcare measures within the community can help in the early detection and management of health issues. Increasing access to healthcare services,

including mental health support, for vulnerable populations such as the elderly is also crucial. Additionally, fostering stronger community networks and collaborations with healthcare providers and government agencies can improve coordination and response during crises.

As aged care leaders, we play a pivotal role in building a more resilient and supportive community. Collaborating with community organizations and stakeholders to provide education, support, and resources for healthcare workers and families of elderly individuals is also essential. Moreover, promoting a culture of compassion, empathy, and inclusivity within aged care settings can contribute to a more resilient and supportive community overall. 

FiND Kalinga is a project supported by the Federation of Ethnic Communities Council of Australia (FECCA) through its COVID-19 Small Grants Projects. For more information about the FiND Kalinga, visit www.findkalinga.net.

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