Raising quality of life

Nicole SalmeriSouth Western Times
South West Community Care chief executive Claire Roach shares her remarkable journey in her role in aged care.
Camera IconSouth West Community Care chief executive Claire Roach shares her remarkable journey in her role in aged care.

It would almost be easier to list the things Claire Roach has not been involved in throughout her lifetime – having dipped her toes in many different industries.

The South West Community Care chief executive found herself in aged care for the last 14 years and has never looked back.

“I applied for this position back in 2006, so I’ve been in this role for quite some time,” she said.

“I didn’t really have particular intentions to get into aged care, I had been a manager in a number of other sectors and this position came up in Harvey and I thought I’d give it a shot and I got it.”

“It’s really interesting because over that time I’ve developed a massive passion for aged care, so it’s one of those things that evolved while I was in the role,” she said.

The 60 year-old mother of two has lived and breathed the South West her entire life and has called Harvey home for the past 10 years.

“I live on a big property and I love to go horse riding most weekends,” she said.

“I moved here when I was 16 with my parents and went to Bunbury Senior High School and then moved up to Perth and did some university studies.

“I actually started work in the mining industry in human resources and training and eventually ended up in industrial relations, then I did some consultancy work, then the education sector, I was a uni lecturer for a while, did some more studies along the way, worked in the health sector, but it’s been aged aged care for the past 14 years.

“I am also a psychologist and as a psychologist I’m very interested in the well being and the mental health of our elderly, but the biggest revelation of all is the elderly are just like us except just a bit older.”

Claire prides herself in ‘treating people with dignity and respect’ and in the past month has led her team to a State award.

“This particular award is an ACSA award and that standard for Aged Care Services Australia and South West Community Care took out the top prize for the entire State of WA,” she said.

“Now we go to a ceremony in October and that’s the nationals and I’m going ‘yeah WA’.”

Claire was overwhelmed to find out her colleagues has recently nominated her for the Hesta award in the category of individual distinction.

“It’s really nice, it’s lovely but my immediate colleges and my management team, they support me a lot.”

But it has not always been easy for Claire, having been struck down twice with breast cancer.

“Remarkably, when I first took on this job in 2006, within two months I had been diagnosed with breast cancer,” she said.

“I worked right throughout my chemotherapy and radiation and everything else, I had a couple of weeks off when I had surgery.”

Just when Claire thought her life was back on track – almost 11 years later the cancer returned.

“So I recovered from that, but in 2017 the damn thing came back, only this time it was much worse, it was secondary and had gone into other organs and I kind of got the news to get my affairs in order, darling,” she said.

“I thought ‘oh really’ but you know what, through a series of very interesting events meeting different people, I ended up getting referred to a professor in Perth and she found a drug and basically all of the tumours are gone and I’m perfectly well.”

“I just had a check up and one of the biggest tumours I had was in my lungs and around my heart and now they’re nearly gone and I feel awesome. I know that by running this organisation I’ve made a big difference to a lot of lives and improved their quality of life towards the end, and boy do I get that, I get that in spades.”

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