AS SUE Blakey signs off for work on Friday, she knows after 21 years, she's given her all to an organisation she has loved.
A retirement in the making, which never comes at the 'right time', Sue has been a part of the team which has transitioned Eventide Homes to a sustainable retirement village to cater for Stawell's elderly well into the future.
Sue worked at the Town of Stawell in local government and moved across with the Stawell water board when it broke away from the Council.
Working with local government and the water board for 22 years, Sue scoped out for new opportunities after the Stawell office closed.
"The systems manager job came up at Eventide Homes. I was in that role for over three years before the board put me through a business management course," she said.
"I worked alongside Terryll Morrisey in a joint role from 2004 until she moved in 2007 when I took on the chief executive role on my own.
"The day I walked in to start at Eventide there was no chief executive at the time and I had no idea what to expect.
"After 22 years working at the water board and having everything in your head I arrived at this new place having absolutely no idea about anything."
Sue said one of the first things she improved at the retirement village was technology and computer systems.
"It was a challenge, learning about aged care and implementing my knowledge that would match up with what was needed in aged care," she said.
"Initially, moving into aged care wouldn't have been my first choice but after time I realised what an important role it plays within a community."
An evolving industry, Sue said she would never had imagined the changes implemented within the aged care sector if asked two decades ago when she first started.
"We used to have sleepovers - 48 residents in the general hostel and we had one person that slept over to look after all of those residents of a night," she said.
"They might have only got woken up once a night or once every three nights. That was the level of care the residents required back then.
"I look at it now and we have 100 residents and have registered nurses on shift 24/7.
"Years ago we had one personal carer dedicated in each wing and now we have two to three staff members in each wing looking after residents. Staffing has changed immensely."
Being part of building two new wings at Eventide Homes is what Sue said was a highlight of her career.
"It's allowed us to increase by 38 beds," she said.
"Starting the Plantation is also another highlight of my time at Eventide Homes. The planning started in 2004 and they were built in 2006.
"In saying that it has taken a long time. We started it all those years ago and there are only 16 houses and one was only finished a few years ago."
Transitioning to retirement has been in the pipeline for some time. Sue said she first started thinking about life without the stress of work around two years ago, but still had the drive within her to keep going.
"Since then there has been the royal commission and COVID-19," she said.
"My contract does go until next year and I thought I probably could see that out but I feel I've gone a bit stale. We've got big things happening in aged care and while I still have the passion, I feel like I don't have the drive to transition to the new phases.
"I think it's a great time for a fresh person to come in and introduce new ideas with the new aged care reforms that will be released.
"I'm looking forward to spending more time with my family and friends - I might even look at taking up some hobbies while I have a break for a bit."
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