Business feature: Palliative Care

EMPATHY: Uniting Naira resident Beryl enjoys some time with carer Rita Fahy, whose personal life experiences have helped others in times of need.
EMPATHY: Uniting Naira resident Beryl enjoys some time with carer Rita Fahy, whose personal life experiences have helped others in times of need.

Rita Fahy is no stranger to grief after losing two young sons and more recently her father to cancer. It was people’s behaviour that prompted her into her incredibly successful career as a palliative carer with Uniting.

“Some people crossed the road after I lost my month old son, they simply didn’t know what to say,” explains Assistant in Nursing Rita.

“But the truth is they didn’t need to say anything. They just had to be there. A cuddle can say so much more than words.”

Rita, who has a history in retail, retrained six years ago so she could pursue her passion – caring for people through tough times.

“I often make my residents giggle. I tell them once they’ve washed their faces at night that they’ve washed off all their wrinkles.

“Sometimes I’ll pretend we’re all going to have a giant pillow fight like we’re all teenagers,” says Rita, 61, who works at Uniting Narla Village in Belmont North.

“One time a family member was sitting by her mother’s bedside. She was sad that her mother hadn’t woken all day to see her. I started singing Louis Armstrong’s Hello Dolly, which I knew the resident loved, sure enough she gained consciousness and joined in. It was truly magical.”

Rita is so highly thought of at Uniting Narla Village, she’s been asked to give a eulogy at one of the resident’s funerals.

“I got a phone call the day after my resident died. It was his daughter and she said ‘Dad loved you. You were so good to him and us, will you give a eulogy?’ I told her it would be an honour.”

On another occasion, Rita noticed the breathing of one of her residents had become laboured, and asked her manager if she could take an early break so that she could sit at the lady’s bedside, holding her hand.

“I could tell she was scared and there wasn’t enough time to call her family and get them to come. Instead I held her hand, prayed and sang to her until she passed.

“Her family thanked me for being with her and making her at ease when the time came. I’m proud that I did that for her.”

Her family thanked me for being with her and making her at ease when the time came.

Uniting provides a range of aged care services across NSW and the ACT including residential aged care, home and community care and independent living. Local residential services are in Belmont, Garden Suburb, Elermore Vale, Mayfield, Hamilton, Singleton and Salamander Bay and all offer quality, caring environments.