Elphin Lodge and Ron Smith Care Centre (RSCC) social worker Nadine Radford enjoys her everyday interaction with residents, and listening to their life stories.
“Being trusted by residents and them knowing that they are listened to and have people they can count on means a lot to me,” she says.
Nadine, who joined Elphin Lodge retirement village and RSCC as a social worker in July 2002, worked at Sandringham Gardens as a social worker from September 2019. Prior to that, she worked at Residentia Moria in Krugersdorp from May 2014 to August 2019.
In 2011, she joined the Department of Social Development in Roodepoort, where she worked in foster care until April 2014.
“I had a scholarship and, as part of that, had to work this time back. It wasn’t ideal, as I was working in foster care, which was not the reason I studied to become a social worker. I wasn’t happy. It was only when I applied and got the position at Residentia Moria that I realised my passion for elderly care,” says Nadine.
In her honour’s year at university in 2010, Nadine completed her practical at Hospice Wits. There, she met a man who had been diagnosed with cancer and was living at Elphin Lodge at the time. She went to visit him before he passed.
“That’s when I knew I wanted to work for an organisation like Rand Aid. I am extremely grateful that, after 13 years as a qualified social worker, I achieved one of my goals – to be a part of Rand Aid’s team which has incorporated the Eden Alternative philosophy for caring for elders,” says Nadine.
The Eden Alternative revolutionises the way in which elders are cared for. The core concept is about teaching us to see places where elders live as comfortable, homely places, rather than institutional facilities for the frail and elderly.
At the end of 2016, after a process of physical, cultural, organisational and personal transformation, RSCC met the criteria for the Eden Alternative’s Milestone One and became only the second in Africa to achieve Eden Registry membership. In 2020, it achieved Milestone Two, becoming the first organisation in Africa to do so.
“I try to assist our residents to embrace their golden years and to enable them to live healthy and fulfilled lives within their individual abilities,” says Nadine.
“In my eight years in elderly care, I have learnt that life is short and that one never knows what tomorrow holds. It’s thus important to live each day to its fullest,” she adds.