Michelle Brown can’t believe her luck.
After more than three decades working as a pharmacist in Cairns, the UK and Perth, the 52-year-old mum-of-two has gone back to study a completely different field for her “forever job”.
And it’s a big job. Michelle is working with her nurse sister Coral Wilkinson to fix Australia’s aged care crisis by helping the elderly remain living in their own homes.
Michelle is studying business management online through Monarch Institute, learning as she builds the company and “loving every minute”. So how did she set her sights on the minefield of aged care? It all started when her father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease in 2017.
While Michelle lived in Perth with her own family, her father, mother and two sisters were in the family’s hometown of Cairns in Far North Queensland, and their brother in Sydney.
“My older sister Coral is a nurse and an aged care assessor, so she was able to organise everything for dad to continue living at home,” Michelle said. “She and mum were putting in countless hours, and every so often they’d need a break, so I’d fly over from Perth and help.
“In the end, we were able to support dad to die at home in a really positive, warm, loving way. It wasreally moving… everyone should have the right to die at home if they choose.”
“At the same time, my sister decided she was tired of red tape and bureaucracy. She started a new business called See Me Aged Care Navigators, that enables people to understand and navigate the agedcare system. We had lived it with our dad, so we knew it could be done.”
Coral hired Michelle as the company’s business manager in February 2020, just as COVID-19 hit Australia’s shores. Michelle wanted to enrol in a face-to-face course, but the colleges were all locked down for the pandemic.
“I found Monarch online and enrolled in a Certificate IV in Small Business Management,” she said. “It’s much more flexible than in-person classes because I can do it at my own pace. I’m halfway through and loving it… the topics are all so relevant, from legal requirements to finances, marketing and business planning.
“And whenever I contact my trainer with a question, they come back to me really fast. The support is fantastic. I really feel like I’m making difference every day. We have people coming to us and crying and saying thank you. It really does warm your heart. I’m just glad I got outside my comfort zone and had a go. I’ll never die wondering.”