Kris Healy is the Director of Care Services for New South Wales in the Hall & Prior Health & Aged Care Group.
Kris began her journey to the aged care industry with a background in nursing, as well as experience with staff and organisation development through the Department of Community and Health Services in Tasmania.
From 2000, Kris oversaw staff development, education and support for the Danks Group, and was part of the organisation’s transition to Hall & Prior in 2010. She has excelled in this multi-faceted role that oversees operations from multiple distinct departments, including finance, clinical care and human resources.
Through Hall & Prior, Kris has managed organisational transitions and culture development, as well as human resource management and mentoring senior management staff. She oversees and ensures quality and compliance for the organisation’s 11 residential aged care homes in NSW, including one a regional area in the state’s north.
Kris is a talented and motivated leader for more than 1000 of Hall & Prior’s staff members in NSW. She is passionate about providing care for some of the most vulnerable people in the state.
Creating hope for the end of one’s journey
Prisoners come to live in aged care homes for a number of reasons. Some may be illegal immigrants, some may have committed crimes and not been mentally fit to stand trial. They usually would have served detention in a mental health facility or the forensic ward in a prison, and are no longer able to remain there as their age-related diseases mean that appropriate care cannot be provided any longer.
Often these people have had a life of abuse and inequity due to their mental health issues, lack of education and proper care, prior to committing their crimes. They often have little to no social support by family and friends.
The detention environment is cold and harsh, with a loss of dignity and freedom. When these people enter residential aged care, they begin to experience humanity again as we seek to understand their individual needs, beliefs and values.
For an Australian aged care home, the focus is compassion and empathy and striving to connect with the older person, regardless of their past. All people are treated with respect and dignity and hope – a fresh start or a new beginning.
They are able to interact with staff and other residents, attend outings and concerts. They can choose their food and clothing for the day. The can choose when they want to leave a room instead of only when the cells are opened by staff. They make friendships and real connections with people who are caring for them.
One of the challenges that are faced by these people is being judged for their crimes. It is important for staff to be reminded that they are not to judge, but to care. The home only cares for the person as they are now, and not based on their past. Staff have to put their own values and opinions aside and simply care, and this can be difficult for some people.
The home has found that people who are former prisoners have to be encouraged and nurtured, being encouraged to socialise and flourish in their new home and make decisions about their own life.
The home offers hope for them in their new life, where in the past they had little. They go through the last months and years of their life with warmth, compassion, love and laughter – to the end of their journey.