ESTEEM: Leigh Harney, manager at St Vincent's Care Services Gympie, has won manager of the year.
ESTEEM: Leigh Harney, manager at St Vincent's Care Services Gympie, has won manager of the year. contributed

Dedicated Gympie aged care manager wins award

ST VINCENT'S Care Services Gympie (formerly known as St Patrick's Villa) manager Leigh Harney had no idea she'd been nominated for Manager of the Year until she attended the awards ceremony.

"It was a big surprise, it was lovely,” she said today.

Mrs Harney is very much a "hands-on” manager, happy to toil away in the facility's gardens on her weekends and on afternoons after work, and organise the interior decorations to reflect bright colours and joy.

The facility has been part of St Vincent's Health Australia for the past three years and last year Mrs Harney was nominated and was runner-up. This year she took out the top award.

"The amount of people who came up and said how much I deserved it - it was very special to me,” she said.

Her hotel services team - those who take care of the cleaning, laundry and kitchen services - also won Team of the Year.

The Gympie site is the smallest of eight St Vincent's Care Services sites in Queensland, caring for 30 residents, and is the furthest north.

There are two on the Gold Coast, one each at Toowoomba and Maroochydore and three in the Brisbane area at Enoggera, Kangaroo Point and Bardon with plans to open two more - one at Carseldine and one at Boondall.

Being the smallest facility is by no means a liability. Mrs Harney has been working in the aged care sector for more than 12 years, and in the role of manager for the past three.

"I know all the residents and their families. I just love elderly people. I love knowing they're looked after,” she said.

Mrs Harney, who started as an assistant in nursing after she and her family sold the Gympie West store, said her 36 talented staff members were part of the magic that made the Gympie site so successful as an aged care facility.

"We have a lot of staff who have been here over a long time, some more than 10 years. Because we're small, many have to multi-skill. Take Maree, for instance, she's an assistant cook but on some days she might help out here in administration or plan activities in lifestyle or she'll do a load of laundry if I ask her to. She fulfils multiple positions.

"It gives them a chance to see a different side to the residents,” she said.

In September the facility was scrutinised for a government accreditation.

This accreditation occurs once every three years and features an assessment period over two days (in the instance of Gympie) with 44 questions covering human resources, clinical practices, residential lifestyle and environment.

"We got 44 out of 44. This means we're doing a really good job and it's a feather in the cap for all staff members. It's also very good to get the feedback,” Mrs Harney said.

"I do the tours and I'm very proud of what we have here and the level of care we provide.”

Gympie Times


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