Just 15 years ago, Moti Naral was a schoolboy in a Nepalese town south east of Kathmandu dreaming of a career in health.
This month, the Adelaide aged care worker, registered nurse, lawyer, business leader and father of two was appointed Chief Executive of leading in-home aged care provider, My Care Solution.
The young Moti Naral’s passion for healthcare started with a little finger that he broke while playing soccer. He remembers admiring the handiwork of nurses who set his fracture in a splint improvised from a small, salvaged plastic capsule.
In Nepal, however, only women are nurses. A StudyAdelaide education campaign in Nepal attracted him to nursing studies at the University of South Australia. With his first airplane flight, he arrived in Adelaide in October 2008.
Mr Naral’s path into aged care began before he set foot on campus in January 2009. He completed a three-month Aged Care Certificate III course to enable him to work part time, gain experience and earn money to support him through his nursing studies.
Three years of part-time work in a residential aged care facility taught him things that a university could not, opened his eyes to Australian ways and convinced him of his future.
“It was a massive cultural challenge,” says Mr Naral.
“I was incredibly fortunate to have such great mentors among those for whom I cared.
“I’d come from a community where we never even saw a telephone until 1995. I had never heard English spoken until I saw the movie Titanic on our community’s only VCR player.
“Soon after I started work here, an elderly female resident rang her bedside bell to ask me to help her ‘spend a penny’. I replied, ‘well, it’s your money and you can spend it as you please’.
“Another resident, Bob, was a marvellous mentor for me. I once asked Bob if he wanted the potato bake for his dinner. My Nepalese pronunciation of potato was ‘patata’ and he had no idea what I was offering him. Eventually, we worked it out, he ate the potato and I learned to say it.”
After completing his Bachelor of Nursing, Mr Naral put aside his ambition to study medicine when he realised that there are Nepalese doctors in Adelaide but no Nepalese lawyers to support the legal needs of expatriate Nepalese. There are today more than 4000 South Australians who migrated from Nepal and just as many again who are here as students.
“I decided that the law would be a useful adjunct to nursing, aged care and Nepalese community involvement here in Adelaide,” said Mr Naral.
“So, I kept working in aged care as a registered nurse while studying law at Flinders. That’s when I started working as a case manager in aged care with the team that is now My Care Solution.
“It’s a family company in both ownership and philosophy… family owned and family friendly. I did a lot of my law studies online but needed to be at uni every Friday. They gave me that day off on full pay.”
In between work, studies and completing an exchange in business studies at the Peking University in Beijing, Mr Naral rose to Director of Client Care.
In 2017, My Care Solution moved from private clients only to both private and government-funded clients in response to funding reforms that shifted choice to the consumer and away from the control of institutions and providers of care.
“We had a great head start,” said Mr Naral.
“Our experience with private clients equipped us to move with agility and speed to spread and grow our relationship-based care and business model. Our emphasis is empathy between carer and client.
“The average age of a My Care Solution carer is 53 years. Our oldest carer is 78 years of age. We strongly favour mature age employment across casual, permanent part time and fulltime.”
The Executive Director of My Care Solution, Mark McBriarty, describes Mr Naral as a rare talent: “I recall his initial reference checks… one of our team commented that Moti is the most inspirational leader with whom she had ever worked. Moti has taken every opportunity, is not afraid to challenge me and drives our organisation with integrity and intelligence.”
Away from his day job, Mr Naral continues to practice at Equitable Law, a firm devoted to migrants and first-generation Australians with a focus on migration law. He is fluent in Nepali, Hindi and English.
He completed his Master of Business Administration (MBA) at UniSA in 2020, is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and sits on the Board of Multicultural Aged Care.
Mr Naral met his wife, Bimita, at UniSA back in 2008. Bimita, who also grew up in Nepal, is a clinical nurse with SA Health. They have a son, Azyk, 5, and a daughter, Alisha, 2.
In the community, Mr Naral volunteers or has served the Nepali-Australian and students Adelaide Khukuri Football Club, the Australian Nepalese Cricket Association and the Adelaide Nepalese Nurses and Midwives Society. In 2019, he was a finalist in the national Excellence in Aged Care Awards by Leading Age Services Australia.
Mr Naral remembers fondly his student days in a Hope Valley share house with a host of Nepalese students.
“It was like a Big Brother house,” he laughs.
“There were 40 of us who became such good friends. Today we all are having children… on to our second child now, many of us!”
Media enquiries: Rob Ball, Ball PR – 08 8223 7305