Rising Star – Nurse Manager Polly Delfim
Nurse Manager Polly Delfim, Papamoa Beach Village
Born and raised in Timóteo, Brazil, Polly Delfim completed her Bachelor of Nursing in 2004 in Belo Horizonte, the capital of Minas Gerais state. She came to New Zealand in 2008, completing her Competency Assessment Programme in Rotorua, where she subsequently lived for nine years.
Now each cartoon is eagerly anticipated, especially when something eventful happens which residents know is sure to catch the attention of their creative neighbour.
During the second week of her CAP, Delfim’s tendency to go the extra mile earned her a job offer as a Registered Nurse beginning the following year. Two and a half years after that, she was offered a job as Clinical Nurse Manager, a position she held for five years. She now calls Te Puke in the Bay of Plenty her home, and is the Nurse Manager at Metlifecare’s Papamoa Beach Village.
Talking to Delfim, it quickly becomes clear just how passionate she is about providing care for those in need, from the residents to those closest to them.
“We tend to focus a lot on the relationship and bond we form with residents in our care, but often take for granted the bond we create with the families of the residents we admit,” she said. “They are often under a lot of stress, and should also be ‘nursed’, mostly in the initial stages leading to admission and the first few weeks after admission.”
By ensuring that trust is built between the care provider and the family of a resident, Delfim encourages a positive atmosphere, one of open conversation and friendly hospitality.
“I like to remind my colleagues that we work at the residents’ homes, rather than residents living where we work. We must understand this is their home and treat it like so – they will guide us as to how they would like to be cared for,” she said.
As well as the day-to-day care involved in her job, Delfim is particularly passionate about the intricacies of caring for residents approaching the end of their lives, and the impact that a well thought out approach can have. She recalls with fondness a particular patient of Asian descent, whose husband possessed limited English.
“We didn’t need any spoken language to know how important his wife was to him and how much he cared about her. He was in the rest home day in and day out, always holding his wife’s hand.”
Eventually, Delfim suggested the patient be moved into a larger room that could hold two beds side by side, allowing the man to stay with his wife day and night. “That lovely woman was able to pass with her husband laying beside her holding her hand, and with her family all around,” Delfim recalls. “We were extremely lucky to be able to witness so much love, care, and family union. It was the most beautiful passing and I will forever treasure that moment.”
I like to remind my colleagues that we work at the residents’ homes, rather than residents living where we work. We must understand this is their home and treat it like so – they will guide us as to how they would like to be cared for”
Caring and compassionate by nature, Delfim has clearly risen through the ranks of her chosen industry thanks to her steadfast commitment to those in her care, whatever their situation.
“When I first came to New Zealand, I thought that working as a Registered Nurse in a second language was quite an achievement; I never aspired to be more than that. I don’t mean to imply that I don’t have aspirations – in fact, quite the opposite. But what I really aim to do is always give 100 percent to every job I do.”
Delfim’s strong approach extends beyond her work – not only is she a passionate home cook and gardener with a penchant for orchids, but she’s also a one-time national tenpin bowling champion for her age division, despite never bowling before arriving in New Zealand. As if that wasn’t enough, she recently took up dancing, participating in a red carpet event for the Rotorua Community Hospice.
“They invited 20 Rotorua identities – 10 men and 10 ladies – with no prior dancing background and no connection to each other. We were paired by two professional dance teachers and taught a number.” After 15 weeks of practice, Delfim and her partner performed their waltz as part of a one-night show, achieving second place overall and winning the People’s Choice Award. In doing so, the duo helped the Rotorua Community Hospice raise $150,000.
As a long-serving care provider in New Zealand, Delfim is a shining example of the kind of high-performing, passionate personalities so crucial to the sector – personalities which are famously hard to come by.
“Good people are hard to find and when you do, they soon move on to something else,” she mused. “Unfortunately, the clear majority of the caregiving workforce in New Zealand is composed of overseas Registered Nurses that want to get through their CAP courses to acquire a New Zealand registration. Don’t get me wrong – they are most of the time excellent carers. But their career as caregivers is short-lived as they soon become an RN.”
As New Zealand’s aged care sector faces an uncertain future in terms of staffing and employment, Delfim’s story provides a clear example of the possibilities a career in care provides. Finding the right people is never going to be easy, but the difference a truly outstanding caregiver can make to the lives of residents and their families surely makes the tough times worthwhile, and few other careers can offer the same level of deep gratification.