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Frank Malley discovered his true passion, supporting our elders in a role he was born to do.  While Covid ended his career as a sports reporter, a role he held for over 17 years, he is now finding fulfilment working in the rewarding care and support sector.

A few challenges resulting from the pandemic, led Frank to pursue a role at Switzer, a rest home, hospital and secure dementia unit in Kaitaia.  The former writer landed a paid role coordinating the volunteers, and in 2023 started a full-time role as a diversional therapy assistant.

Frank Malley enjoying a day trip to Ahipara with residents Lizzie Thiel, Kassi Reddy and June Shutt.

Frank is also well on his way to qualifying in his new chosen career, having almost completed his apprenticeship in Diversional Therapy with support from his employer and work-based training provider Careerforce.

I’m a people person and I can relate to people pretty-well

“It’s all about having the ability to deal with people, and having a good rapport,” says Frank.  “I’m a people person and I can relate to people pretty-well.

“When my friends found out about this role, they didn’t bat an eyelid, ‘You were born for this role, oh you’ll be awesome at it!’, they said.”

As a teenager starting off a career in banking, Frank excelled at customer interaction.  He had a natural ability to know how to deal with clients who were upset or angry.

Frank later worked as a sports reporter for The Northland Age community newspaper, having made his way to the far North township to take up the role, and because of its proximity to the world class surf breaks at Ahipara. “I did writing for 17 years. I’d be on the phone all Sunday from 9am until 9pm. It was a really good job. I loved the writing.” says Frank.

Even as a sports reporter, Frank spent much of his spare time at the Switzer Rest Home where he volunteered for four years. He spent so much time at the home, he has joked about being often mistaken for a resident. 

“I was coming down and visiting people, and then Covid stopped everything.  It killed my job. Then it stopped me from visiting Switzer,” says Frank.

“We were a little community paper, and people weren’t buying newspapers anymore.”

“For the last 3 years, I’ve had about 6 different jobs. I even did flooring, and I’ll never tell you in a million years I was any good at that. It’s been a weird old time.

“There are moments you think you’re too good for something, and then you suddenly realise that you’ve still got lots to learn.

Frank landed a career in care, with new roles and a qualification well underway  

“When I started volunteering again about a year later, the volunteer coordinator had stepped down, so I put my hand up.”

With Frank’s experience and friendly manner, the volunteers were surely in a safe pair of hands. He was offered the part-time volunteer coordinator job, a paid position.  The role was to recruit volunteers and coordinate them. The volunteers’ roles include taking residents on outings, providing companionship, and even doing some gardening.

“When I was coordinating the volunteers, I worked closely with the activities team, and I knew some of them were completing a qualification. Someone mentioned that I should enrol and was very proactive at pushing me forward, and I was interested.”

Frank Malley catching a wave

Frank decided to enrol in the Diversional Therapy Apprenticeship but discovered the study was not without its challenges. He says he is so grateful to those who have helped him get to where he is. “I’m getting a lot of pretty amazing support from Deb White (a Careerforce Apprenticeship Advisor), and the rest of the team back at Careerforce.

“I’m chugging along with my qualification. Studying from home is the way of the world now.  You’ve got to be very motivated, and you’ve got to be very proactive in your own study.

Switzer supports Frank with his Diversional Therapy Apprenticeship

“I’m also grateful to the staff and management at Switzer for all their support and encouragement every step of the way of my journey.  I am proud to be part of such an incredible team that I work alongside every day as well.”

“I’ve gone from employed and volunteering, to unemployed, to unemployed and volunteering, to part-time work, and now to a full-time job.

“Things have panned out pretty-well. A lot of people had a lot of faith in me and it’s also about having some faith in yourself.

Whatever else is going on, Frank has found his calling. “I’m pretty proud about that,” says Frank.

More information

If you are considering a career change and want more information about health and wellbeing on-job learning, contact Careerforce, a business division of Te Pūkenga.