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Meet Bethanie veteran, Laurette Le Cras.

The role of a Corporate Outreach Program Manager requires someone who is highly dedicated, capable of matching individual capabilities with the needs of those Bethanie cares for and must always demonstrate an ability to be kind, compassionate and understanding in every single aspect of the job.

First and foremost, they are the main point of contact for people interested in volunteering with Bethanie. Day-to-day, they are responsible for recruiting volunteers into specific roles across all Bethanie Programs, providing continuous support to volunteers and coordinating special requests, such as assting with corporate events, and most recently, finding the right people to make masks for the Bethanie community.

Enter Laurette Le Cras.

Not only does Laurette demonstrate these qualities and carry out these duties to a superior level, she always takes the time to share her wisdom gained from the past 25-years working with Bethanie.

Laurette, 25-years with Bethanie is an incredible achievement. When you first started, did you think you would reach this milestone?

No, not really. In lots of ways the time has flown by.

It all started when I was approached by one of the then Churches of Christ Homes and Community Services directors and asked to apply. They had heard I was thinking about moving closer to my family. I had been working in Geraldton for eight years most recently as the Coordinator of Nursing at Geraldton Regional Hospital.

I flew down to Perth, had an interview and on the way back was offered the role which I accepted. Although I had never worked in aged care before, I knew the great reputation that Bethanie Elanora had in the community.

To this day, I have no regrets at all. Sure, sometimes over the years we all face tough moments in our roles, but I can honestly say that I have always felt supported.

Tell us about the different roles you have had over the years, and which one you enjoyed the most

My journey with Bethanie started in 1996 as the Director of Nursing, then a few months later I became the Manager of Bethanie Elanora Aged Care Home and Village. Next in 2002, I became Regional Leader South which included overseeing aged care homes, retirement villages, home care and living well centres in both south-metro and the south-west. This role also included overseeing the many different Bethanie care portfolios, including Infection Control and Palliative Care.

Most recently, for the past seven years, I took on the role as the first Manager of Bethanie’s Volunteer Programs. At the beginning we had a few volunteers but no real policies or procedures in place to manage. Through forming networks with volunteer resource centres, we have been able to grow the program. Volunteers are so willing to give of their own time and contribute significantly to those whose lives they touch.

It is very hard to say which one was my favourite. I always enjoyed the role I was doing at the time, and the amazing people I was blessed to work with.

What is the most fun and exciting experience you have had with Bethanie over the years?

In the earlier years I led a group comprising of ten Hostel Managers and four Directors of Nursing from various nursing homes. Our brief was to develop a team that would lead the organisation’s residential care facilities in an environment of continuous quality improvement, in preparation for accreditation. We had to develop many of the first quality manuals. We were so proud when all 14 programs received their first three-year accreditation (previously had been standard monitoring).

In 2012 I had the honor of receiving the Bethanie Employee of the Year award. I felt so lucky to have won, it was so much appreciated.

More recently, I have to say, being part of the opening of Bethanie Fields Aged Care Home was definitely one of the most exciting experiences I have had. I had the enormous task of helping to recruit a whole new team of staff, then move in 160 new residents over the following 12 months. It felt like such a fantastic achievement. I am so thrilled that we still have many of the original team.

Was there a moment or an experience that you found to be really rewarding?

Initiating the Bethanie Palliative Approach in 2006. This was an enormous step for Bethanie and the industry as a whole. Prior to that, the majority of residents were transferred to hospitals for end of life care. Now, they can remain in familiar surrounds, with the wonderful Bethanie community they have become a part of.

Over the years, what has made you realise the true impact of your role with Bethanie?

Having the opportunity to be an integral part of setting up our wonderful Bethanie Volunteer Program. We started with just a handful of volunteers, and now, over the past 7 years we have grown this to over 500 dedicated volunteers across all Bethanie programs from Geraldton to the south-west.

The revised Volunteer Team of four people will enable more support to the Bethanie programs as well as to the volunteers themselves.

Now, as you approach your retirement in March, what aspect of your role will you miss the most?

The buzz of finding the right volunteer for a particular role and visiting all our amazing centres and homes across Bethanie. Over the years have been asked to find volunteers able to speak certain languages or with quite particular skills e.g. spend time with residents in End Stage Care, to take a resident in a wheel chair fishing etc.

So, what is next for you in retirement?

My family have told me I need to make time for myself, but that of course will include becoming a Bethanie volunteer and giving back to an organisation I have been so privileged to work within!

Aside from that, I look forward to travelling and spending more time with family and friends, as well as establishing a new garden… Just to name a few!

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