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Geraldton caring is right on the money

Geraldton might be home for Lindsey Money but she hasn’t lost her rich Scottish brogue since emigrating from Aberdeen three years ago. Every day, the warm, musical lilt resonates through the modest brick house where Lindsey spends much of her working day.

The homely building, originally holiday accommodation, has been converted into a four-bed short-stay respite care facility for people with severe and enduring mental illnesses and those at risk of homelessness.

Lindsey took over the Geraldton residential centre in September 2019 when she was appointed to lead a team of 12 staff as Ruah’s Regional Manager for Mental Health and Wellness.

“I get the best of both words in this job. I’m a manager but my role also allows me to be the nurse I always will be,” she said.

“I love working at the residential units.  We eat together in the evening and each resident gets involved in the food preparation, cooking and cleaning.  It is a great time to get to know people in a more casual and domestic environment focusing on downtime instead of their illness.

“Every week we hold a barbecue for current, past and community clients.  We meet for a couple of hours and it is a great opportunity for social inclusion.  Sometimes conversation is limited but it doesn’t matter, it is just about being surrounded by others.

“I am a big believer in just sitting with people – you don’t even have to talk – especially those people who are in high levels of distress or acutely psychotic or severely depressed. It is just that presence of someone else that helps.

“The journey in mental health is across a lifespan. You are here to support people when they need it but it is wonderful when you seeing them going home.

“We missed that face-to-face connection during the COVID-19 restrictions. It was difficult for our community clients because many of them do not use technology.  We did the best we could over the phone but we’re happy now we can reconnect with them in person.”

Lindsey met her husband while backpacking around Australia in the 1990’s and the couple settled in Scotland where she notched up a successful career as a mental health nurse. A downturn in the oil and gas industry brought them back to her husband’s hometown of Geraldton four years ago to raise their five year-old daughter and two dogs.

“My first experience working with people experiencing mental health was in a residential setting after the UK started closing the long-term wards in hospitals. Being a person who had always been quite motherly, I knew this was what I was meant to do,” she said.

For Lindsey, hearing the beautiful stories about people’s recovery, or helping them discover that life can be enjoyable and rewarding not just a challenge, is why she has stayed in mental health over the years.

“We had one lady with schizophrenia who used to be a jockey when she was younger. She lived in a violent relationship in a remote area of WA but, on her third stay with Ruah, her mindset shifted. After six months with us, we helped her find a private tenancy in town and got her set up.

“That client is now flourishing.  We still support her twice a day and are hoping to get her back into the stables to reconnect with her passion.”

As for Lindsey’s future with Ruah, she looks forward to seeing how developments in mental health evolve and will continue to help drive the organisation forward, particularly in the growing Mid-West.

“What I love about our facility in Geraldton is that it is such a client centered service. Because it’s smaller, you get to know the clients better, get to hear their stories.

“Although we initially expect clients to stay for three months, they usually stay longer as there is a big housing shortage in Geraldton.”

And for those days when the young working mum simply needs to switch off, Lindsey knows just the thing.

“I am an avid reader and I love to lose myself in a trashy Marian Keyes novel.  I know the storyline before I have even opened the book.”