Composed leadership in anxious times
In January 2020, bushfires ravaged the NSW South Coast. With the largest aged care presence in the region, IRT faced a catastrophic bushfire threat across seven sites. In this series of stories, we celebrate the courage, resilience and leadership of our employees, who kept our centres operating and our residents safe.
IRT St Georges Basin Care Manager Sharon Southward has worked at the centre for 13 years – first as a care worker and RN, and for the past two years as care manager. She and her team were on standby to evacuate three times over the Christmas and New Year period. With each new threat, she led with calm composure.
Sharon Southward: “The first flare-up happened on December 21 and the sky basically went black. We were getting large black ash coming over to the site. The big event for us was January 4. We had spot fires on Island Point Road which is less than 3km from the centre. I was in here from 10:00am to 10:30pm making sure everybody stayed calm and making sure we had all the equipment. Professionally it was one of the most challenging things I’ve had to deal with. It was the fear of the unknown that caused the most anxiety. The team was extraordinary and they supported every decision I made. They all come to work because they want to make a difference to our residents’ lives.”