Rise of a new DON

Suman Devkota: Goodwin’s new Director of Nursing (Ralph Cartwright Centre)

Some people in life are blessed with opportunities that help catapult them to success. And there are some who work their way up from scratch to achieve success. Goodwin is proud to welcome on-board our new Director of Nursing (DON) for Ralph Cartwright Centre, Suman Devkota, whose journey is nothing short of inspirational for anyone looking to build a career in aged care.

“I started my journey in aged care as a cleaner back in 2008. Having newly arrived from Nepal, I was never exposed to an aged care setting before. Working on the floor, I used to keenly observe the way carers and nurses went about their jobs. That really inspired me: that I could emulate them.”

With the right advice and support from his manager, Suman did his aged care certifications followed by a four-year degree in nursing which secured him nursing roles with leading hospitals and aged care homes. It wasn’t easy as Suman had to divide his time between work and studies. But he persevered and got the fruit of his labour when he landed a role as a Care Manager with St. Andrews in Canberra, leading to his dream position as Director of Nursing with Goodwin.

“It just shows if you put in the hard yards and are willing to learn, you can achieve anything in life.”

And it’s not just hard work, but also a passion to make a difference that has brought Suman success in his career.

“Working with seniors gives me a real sense of satisfaction. When they smile at me, I feel I’ve got my day’s reward. I’m not money driven. I want them to have quality of life as much possible, so I can sleep well.”

As Goodwin’s new Director of Nursing at Ralph Cartwright Centre in Monash, Suman is responsible for all clinical and care operations of the facility, whilst ensuring compliance with aged care standards.

“Goodwin is in a strong position as we are already following the best practices. My job is to ensure we continue raising the bar and identify opportunities to improve our quality of care to our residents.”

“Among my top priorities is exploring ways to enhance our level of engagement with people with cognitive impairments. We are constantly training our people to communicate better with people living with dementia. There’s a wealth of resources with Dementia Australia that we’re looking to tap into. Plus we are seeking to bring in new technologies, such as projector based games with sensors, that will help us further improve resident experiences.”

“On the clinical side of things, we want to take our care assessment systems to the next level to further minimise unnecessary hospital transfers for our residents. We are working with external assessment bodies such as Geriatric Rapid Acute Care Evaluation Team (GRACE) and our in-house nurse educators to empower our teams to expertly manage that.”

While these are medium to long-term goals for Suman, the biggest challenge at hand remains countering the threat of a COVID-19 outbreak if it happens at Goodwin.

“Yes the threat of COVID-19 is real. But we’re fully prepared. We’ve got a full supply of PPE equipment good to last several weeks and all our staff have been trained on how to safely don and doff the gear. Our COVID taskforce team has done a wonderful job in putting together an outbreak management plan. We are doing mock drills and trainings to ensure all staff on the floor is thoroughly familiarised with the processes should we have an outbreak tomorrow.”

The team has been responding well and Suman is confident they will deliver the goods when the time comes.

“These are testing times but I’m proud of the way my team is responding to the challenge. I am trying to lead by example by chipping in on the floor every now and then. As a leader it is my responsibility to not just manage my team members but also mentor them in every way possible: whether it’s skill development or career advice, my door is open for them 24/7.”

And he has a piece of advice for people, young and old, aspiring to pursue a career in aged care:

“Let age be no barrier to your growth. And let your passion for serving seniors show through in your work”.