Humour and dedication through hard times

Phyllis Maria Thomas (neé Burke)
11 August 1951–25 June 2005

Phyllis was born in Dublin, Ireland, 11 August 1951. Her family moved to London when Phyllis was in primary school. Phyllis and her mother went to live in Boston, USA, when Phyllis was 14 with her older sister, who married an American airforce member.

They returned to England after a num-ber of years and lived in Laton near London.

Phyllis and her mother arrived in Australia in 1972. They settled in Bondi and Phyllis began her career as an Assistant in Nursing at Durham Lodge Nursing Home in Bondi. She also worked at Elsmore Nursing Home in Randwick.

She married Graham on 21 February 1976. They moved to Wyoming on the Central Coast in 1977. They had two beautiful daughters, Justine and Caroline.

Phyllis commuted by train to nursing homes in Bondi until 1980. She commenced her career at Adelene Nursing Home in June 1980, six weeks after it opened. Adelene Nursing Home comprised RNs and ENs and Phyllis was our first AIN. Gerda Schonavelt, our Matron, ensured that all staff supported and guided Phyllis to make her feel comfortable and welcome.

Phyllis loved her work and excelled when caring for dementia residents with challenging behaviours. She had the ability to step into their world and therefore coped with behaviours with minimum stress and greater outcomes.

Work colleagues appreciated her dry sense of humour and dedication that often carried them through a difficult shift. Her friends found her to be loyal and loving and many have had good times over lots of ducks’ feet!

Phyllis picked the times she wanted to socialise and if it didn’t suit it was ‘too hot’, ‘too cold’, ‘too wet’ or ‘too windy’.

Some have known her as a practical joker and she loved scaring them with her antics, yet if you walked behind her and said ‘boo’ she would scream and then abuse you.

In recent years she had a couple of friends she called the secret society with a phone code to ring. She would know who they were and she would answer and catch up on all the work gossip. Phyllis was very much a home body who enjoyed her movies and loved her animals.

After 25 years at Adelene Nursing Home she will be greatly missed by the residents and her friends.
Jennifer Price
Adelene Nursing Home