Nurse celebrates half a century of caring

For Gwen Billings, caring for the elderly is a duty more than a job.

The Enrolled Nurse recently celebrated 45 years of continuous service to seniors at Carinity’s Brookfield Green aged-care community at Brookfield.

Gwen started working with Carinity, then known as Queensland Baptist Care, in 1973 – one year after Brookfield Green opened as “Resthaven”.

Carinity’s longest-serving employee, Gwen commenced an aged-care nursing career spanning more than 50 years as a teenager in Rockhampton, before working as a nurse in Adelaide and Brisbane.

“I was about 16-and-a-half when I started as a student nurse. When I was young a country girl had two choices: you went and stayed in the nearest city and boarded and became a teacher, or you became a nurse and lived in nurses’ quarters,” Gwen says.

Gwen believes the secret to her longevity in the aged-care industry is her passion for caring for the elderly and finding pleasure in her work. She says building relationships with residents is one of the most gratifying aspects of nursing.

“I have enjoyed my work in aged care. I just love to care for the elderly and if something wasn’t right or good enough I would be an advocate for them. You remember them and you become very fond of quite a lot of them, and I’ve made lots of friends,” Gwen says.

“I’m sure I have made a contribution to aged care and my kids and I feel proud about it. I didn’t ever ask for any praise, it was my job, my duty.”

Gwen recently retired after more than 16,000 days of service as a Carinity employee.

She praised the flexibility of her long-time employer, which allowed her to take time off to study, travel overseas and care for her own family.

“Working for Carinity suited me; it fitted into my life with little children and they were reasonably flexible with what you could work and what you couldn’t,” Gwen says.

Gwen’s dedication to the elderly people of the Brookfield district saw her honoured as a finalist in the Queensland Community Achievement Awards held in Brisbane in November.

She was also acknowledged by Carinity, which proudly recognises its employees’ service with the presentation of awards for every five years of service.

“It’s rare to find someone who has worked in the same industry with so much passion and enthusiasm for so long, let alone worked with the same organisation for 45 years. Gwen has been a wonderful blessing for Carinity,” Carinity Executive Manager of Aged Care Valmae Dunlea says.

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