What is it like working for Kimberley Renal Services (KRS)?
[su_heading size=”36″ align=”left” margin=”30″]What is it like working for Kimberley Renal Services (KRS)?[/su_heading]
We wanted to shine a light on Kimberley Renal Services (KRS) and the excellent support they provide to the communities in our region. We spoke with Jenny Cutter, our Broome-based Executive Manager, about what it has been like working for KRS since she joined more than nine years ago.
“We’re the only Aboriginal community-controlled renal health service in Australia and employ around 90 staff members, including a dedicated team of Aboriginal Healthcare Workers. We work hard to understand and meet our patients’ needs and deliver culturally appropriate care. We support patients with all forms of renal healthcare, from the early stages of chronic kidney disease, to haemodialysis, to surgery and transplants.”
KRS team members work to support and build capacity in their communities.
“All of our services are very supportive for patients, working with them and their primary healthcare provider, and we also support our team in delivering those services.
While KAMS supports KRS, the organisation is a wholly-owned subsidiary of KAMS and is an entity in its own right. It has come a long way since Jenny first joined. She moved to Australia in the early 2000s and lived in Melbourne. A speaker at a conference sparked her interest in Aboriginal remote health. She discussed with her manager at the time, taking leave without pay, to work in the Northern Territory for six months, this proved to be a very positive experience and Jenny returned to Melbourne very motivated to try to return to an area that offered the opportunity to continue working within Indigenous renal care.
That opportunity arose in January 2010 when a position became available in the Northern Territory and once again, this job proved very rewarding.
In July 2011, Jenny experienced a major health scare, which required relocation to Melbourne for surgery and treatment. With time on her hands, Jenny was surfing the internet and came across a position advertised for the Kimberley Renal Support Service Manager she applied for the job and was successful. This proved a major driver for Jenny to get through her treatment and get back to work.
“I started at KRS in November 2011 having worked in the Northern Territory previously, which was my first experience of working in Indigenous health. It was a really positive experience for me to receive that opportunity to work in the Kimberley with KRS after having surgery and completing my treatment.”
Jenny commenced work as a KRS Support Services Manager and managed a team for three years before moving into her current role as Executive Manager.
“Every day is different. While we deliver the same services, such as haemodialysis, new challenges are always cropping up. We have a fantastic team who always go the extra mile and work together. We really do get to make a difference in patients’ lives.”
[su_note]If you or someone you know, has renal healthcare skills and are interested in working for KAMS, register your interest here.[/su_note]
Since joining KRS, the services have expanded across the region and KRS now run four renal health centres throughout the region.
Jenny admits it can be tough to retain renal healthcare staff, as the skillset is specialised.
“This challenge isn’t unique to KRS; I’ve worked in renal healthcare for 38 years, and it’s the same everywhere. We have the additional challenge of working in remote areas.”
Aside from this, the work is very rewarding. Before the renal healthcare centres were established in the Kimberley, patients had to move to Perth because there was no capacity to deliver treatment.
“It’s always great when we bring patients home to country. Last year, we secured a large contract that has enabled us to expand our service and allow patients who were forced to go to Perth (for treatment) to return home. That was a huge win for us. There was a very long patient waiting list for people in Perth wanting to come home. Years ago, it was common for patients to remain in Perth for many years; one of the patients had not seen her family in seven years. Now thankfully that doesn’t have to happen.”
Securing the contract was a result of a lot of hard work and it is a real positive. KRS has now managed to secure not only services for patients but also jobs for staff for the next few years.
“It is very emotional. Patients visit our healthcare centres from all around the region. Even now, for some patients, their home is over a thousand kilometres away. We managed to secure funding for a mobile dialysis unit with two machines. Now, we can take that to remote communities for patients who need to go home to attend significant events, such as a funeral. People don’t understand how hard it is for people to be away from their family for so long.”
Jenny and the KRS team are proud to provide renal healthcare service for all people in the Kimberley, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous.
“We have the knowledge and skills to provided culturally appropriate care for patients and ensure their needs are met. We are proud of our Aboriginal workforce. We work closely together and respect each other’s’ differences.”
For people who join the KRS team, there is plenty of opportunity. Everyone is willing to share knowledge and experiences. For healthcare workers moving to the Kimberley who have not experienced the environment before, it can be challenging but very rewarding, everyone is very open and welcoming.
“We promote employment opportunities within our team. We are very autonomous. We offer our team members many opportunities for education and travel to attend and speak at conferences. We have been overseas to promote and talk about our service. We are leaders in Aboriginal renal healthcare, and that makes us proud. We’re a team to want to work for because we offer so much opportunity.”
Jenny is looking forward to consolidating new infrastructure for the organisation and working to implement new initiatives that will help patients, such as the Home Therapy models.
“Some patients want to do their own dialysis at home, so we want to be able to push that forward and support them in that. We’ll continue to strive to secure more services that will support communities.”
For people interested in joining KRS, Jenny said, they will ideally be open-minded, looking to learn and be interested in experiencing something different.
“Come and experience it! People who have come and worked here have said it has been fantastic. The opportunities are here, and when people join, they will get to learn from our staff and patients, listen to their stories, and discover how they live. The Kimberley is a beautiful place to be. We have the bush and the sea. We offer a great remuneration package, which includes accommodation, and relocation. Ensuring people have a great experience when they come here is a priority for us.
Outside of work, Jenny enjoys exercising and staying fit, cooking and fishing. She likes spending time with family and friends, and walking on the beach.
If you or someone you know, has renal healthcare skills and are interested in working for KAMS, register your interest here.