Meet the NWMPHN aged care team

  24 May 2024  NWMPHN   

The residential aged care sector is going through major changes. These include new regulations regarding registered nurses, mandatory resident care times, new quality standards and governance requirements, and the rollout of the Australian Government’s MyMedicare program.

At North Western Melbourne Primary Health Network (NWMPHN) we understand that all of this, on top of the day-to-day challenges of caring for older people, can feel overwhelming, but we are here to help.

We and our partner organisations deliver multiple programs that can make life easier for aged care residents and staff. Our team can also link you up with service providers and problem-solvers across the primary health care system.

Meet the team and find their contact details below, and read more about our work with older adults and in aged care.

Meet Sonia …

Sonia Zahra, NWMPHN’s program officer for digital health projects, is a very important member of our aged care team.

She has a quarter of a century working in the primary care sector, in roles as varied as quality improvement, promotion, accreditation auditing, practice management and education.

This means she has developed a wealth of expertise helping aged care home staff to provide high quality health care to all residents.

NWMPHN aged care team member Sonia Zahra
NWMPHN aged care team member Sonia Zahra

Her work, however, is not without its challenges – especially in her own work area, which covers introducing digital health pathways into aged care.

It’s an interest that is not only professional, but also personal.

“I had personal experience with my mum who was in aged care,” she says.

“This has made me interested in promoting the health care services available that residents need. Introducing digital health technology into aged care homes is a good example of that.”

Sonia adds that she really enjoys her work, not least because of her colleagues.

“We have an awesome team who share common goals about improving the awareness of the health services available in residential aged care homes,” she says.

While committed to improving the lives and health of older Australians across the board, there is also, in the background, an element of self-interest in what she does.

Like all of us, of course, one day she will be ready to retire. When that happens, what sort of supports for older people would she like to see?

“More digital health services to access in quicker time frames!” she laughs.

Contact Sonia on 9347 1188 or or

Introducing Ruby …

Ruby Hynes recently joined us as the new project officer for aged care capability building.

Before starting at NWMPHN, Ruby worked at the Epworth hospital and volunteered at 2 not-for-profit groups: the John Pierce Centre, an organisation for the deaf community; and the Better Health Network, that provides primary and allied health care in Melbourne’s south east.

These experiences involved working with diverse population groups, learning about their challenges and barriers navigating the health care system. This made her realise she preferred working in community settings rather than a hospital environment, and to focus on creating better processes and services.

NWMPHN aged care team member Ruby Hynes
NWMPHN aged care team member Ruby Hynes

Ruby’s role is to work with residential aged care homes, building supports for operating in the after-hours period.

“Providing high quality, consistent care for residents around the clock can be challenging, especially when it comes to contacting GPs or accessing medications at night or on weekend,” she says.

“We’ve been able to help homes plan for this and develop tools and identify potential grant opportunities so they can build their capacity.

“Australia is facing a fast-growing ageing population, so I feel it is a great opportunity to be working in aged care not just for residents now but for those in the future.”

Apart from her ability to help aged care homes staff work to the top of their scope, Ruby is also fluent in Auslan and has competed (and come third) in a powerlifting competition!

Contact Ruby on 9347 1188 or or

Meet Dhwani …

Dhwani Patel has been working on several important aspects of residential aged care health support, including telehealth and after-hours services.

“Working in the aged care space has been rewarding and satisfying,” she says.

“In the past 12 months I have extensively engaged with residential aged care homes, and it has given me a holistic understanding of challenges they are experiencing.”

NWMPHN aged care team member Dhwani Patel
NWMPHN aged care team member Dhwani Patel

Working in the sector was a natural progression for Dhwani. Before joining NWMPHN she worked for an information technology company that developed digital health solutions for aged care homes to help them better manage workflow and processes.

“It was quite a fulfilling experience and gave me a sense of satisfaction when I was able to empower aged care homes and, as a result, they were able to provide better services to the older adults,” they said.

Helping to ensure high standards of health care in the aged care sector is not only a professional priority for her. It’s a personal one, too.

“I have my loved ones living in aged care homes outside Australia where services are not up to a great standard,” she says.

“Since a young age I have witnessed their struggles and that has always kept me motivated. Working in the aged care space will give me an opportunity to develop insights and hopefully I will be able to take these lessons to my home country to improve services for older adults.”

When not busy at NWMPHN, Dhwani relaxes by taking long walks in the countryside. She also loves playing Indian classical music on her harmonium, a kind of pump organ.

Contact Dhwani on 9347 1188 or or