Sr Anna Parlevliet: A journey through various health care ministriesPrint
Having always wanted to be a nun, and look after children and/or the aged, my health care journey as a Sister of Charity began in 1966 when, before looking after a group of children in our care,
I was given the opportunity to do a mothercraft course.
As there were changes coming within the child care system, my future ministry also changed.
After completing my State-enrolled nurses training, my journey took me to Mt Olivet where I nursed and once or twice a week ran a few activities.
When Marycrest Retirement Centre was built, I felt there was a need for residents to be offered some sort of activities/stimulation, so this led to the Congregation allowing me to move into a new
health care service program called Activities for the Frail Aged. This included mental and physical stimulation, as well as going on outings.
The program was taken up in many facilities and, after a few years, a TAFE College-based education was set up and became
known as Diversion Therapy. Diversional therapists often work as part of the Allied Health Services team.
Their role is client-centred, and recognises that leisure and recreational activities are the right of all individuals no matter what age or ability. Each activity program supports and enhances the psychological, spiritual, social, and physical well-being of individuals.
One important therapy in aged care centres, nursing homes, retirement village and hospitals is pet therapy – pets bring joy to people who are no longer able to have an animal of their own.
Another important observation was that residents or patients who didn’t respond to other stimulation would respond to pets.
After 14 years in Queensland, my ministry brought me to Caritas Christi Day Centre, in Melbourne. Here, I continued working as part of the health services team.
During my first year there, I was contracted by our National Diversional Therapy Office to contact a group of Red Cross workers who were interested
in joining us. Together with Sir James Gobbo as our adviser, we were able to set up the Diversional Therapy Association of Victoria.
After a number of years, we were able to set up a Certificate IV diploma courses at Swinburne University. During this time, my journey took me to a number of different facilities to help them set up individual programs for their clients. At times, this was quite challenging.
Needing a change, I worked at Prague House as a personal care attendant. This was a great privilege as the men and women in our care are poor and marginalised, often suffering from some form
of mental health issues.
Due to circumstances beyond my control, my journey took another twist and beside being a Sister of Charity, I now have the privilege of helping with the care of my other passion – that of our “domestics of faith“ who through ill-health or frailty are in care.
I help Mary Gabrielle with preparing parties for birthdays and special occasions, visiting, and – when I am able to – attend coffee clubs and shop.
Throughout my ministries/journey, I have had the support of my Congregation and I am proud to be a Sister of Charity.