Australia: Zimbabwean nurse Busi Faulkner recovers from heart attack at 33 to create her own home-care service

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By Women’s Agenda

QUEENSLAND – When Busi Faulkner arrived in Australia in 2004, she didn’t expect the colour of her skin to be a point of conversation. Emigrating from Zimbabwe, the 24-year-old was working as a registered nurse when she noticed people’s heightened reaction to her skin.

“People would come up touch me,” she told Women’s Agenda. “This was something I had never experienced before. I felt that people did not trust my abilities as much as other staff members because of where I had come from. Someone even asked me if we lived in boxes!”

The young nurse was eager to begin a new life in Australia, settling into a home in South East Queensland and starting a family. She didn’t expect her life to take a turn for the worst after she gave birth to her second child.

Less than a fortnight after the birth, Faulkner, who was just 33, woke one morning with an unusual pain in her chest.

“I was overcome with this indescribable pain,” she said. “I had a gut feeling that if I did not get help I would die.”

Faulkner’s husband rushed her to the local hospital, where the doctors prescribed her painkillers. They told her she had nothing to be worried about, but Faulkner had an instinct something was very wrong.

“I lost my mother and father at a young age so I couldn’t stop thinking about how my kids would have to grow up without a mother if they were wrong,” she said.

Faulkner consulted another doctor for a second opinion, though she had to wait a few days before she saw them. When she finally saw the second doctor, she was told she was having a heart attack.

“They were amazed I was still alive with the amount of damage to my heart,” Faulkner said.

Faulkner had to hire carers to pay her visits at home — a service she said she felt “an incredible amount of shame” from.

“Probably because these care workers were used to servicing the elderly or visibly ill,” she said. “I knew from then on that I wanted to make a difference in this space.”

When Faulkner recovered, she began searching for jobs in the caring services. But she was turned down by prospective companies, over and over.

“No one would give me the time of day because of my ongoing health complications,” she said. “I couldn’t lift anything heavy and my doctor said if I wanted to work I essentially needed to live next door to the hospital.”

Like many entrepreneurs, Faulkner decided to carve her own path. It would be another eight months before she got her first client. Since then, Home Care Nurses Australia (HCNA) has become one of the leading providers of care services in South East Queensland, and now has operations in ACT, SA, Victoria and WA.

Offering a wide range of services, HCRA provide respite care, managed live in care, companionship and specialisation care and special needs house-work, including errands support and managing diets. Faulkner was keen to create a person-centred service-based company that didn’t limit the kind of ‘typical’ client one thinks of when “home care” services is mentioned.

Case study: Read how Home Care Nurses Australia went digital with CareLineLive despite MD Busi Faulkner confessing

A vast category of people can seek help from their services, including physically compromised people, housebound people, terminally, chronically or acutely ill, family caregivers and accident victims.

“I believe in making a difference in people’s lives and I’m trying to change something that doesn’t seem to be the norm,” Faulkner said.

“I want to be a good role model for my kids and show them that no matter what, if you believe in yourself and are determined, you can really make your ambitions come true. It really is about believing in yourself no matter what.”

Faulkner also acknowledges her biggest champion too —  her husband, whose support is “everything” to her.

“We are a team,” she said. “I remember my first ever client was a long distance away and I couldn’t drive that far at that point. My husband called in sick, took the kids and drove me there and waited six hours for me to be finished. That was where I got my start in the industry.”

During this year’s International Women’s Day, Faulkner was toasting to women all around the world.

“Women are shapeshifters,” she said. “I want to be a role model for young girls, especially young girls of colour to prove to them that they can do anything. I do this to represent them and empower them to believe in their dreams too.”