Volunteer, Koonambil Aged Care Ltd, NSW
I’m a part time volunteer at Koonambil Aged Care Ltd and have been involved with the facility for a long time. More than 30 years ago I was a member of the Foundation committee that had a vision for Koonambil, and raised the funds to build our community owned, not for profit facility.
Having worked five days a week for 25 years, when I retired I knew I couldn’t just sit on the sofa and do nothing all day. I knew there was a need in the community, the community I grew up in, for my help and I’m happy to do so because I want to give something back, knowing that one day I might need the same support.
I’m a regular Koonambil volunteer, caring and advocating for residents. It’s a wonderful place run by wonderful people, who really do dedicate themselves to providing the residents with the quality care and support they deserve.
I love all the residents at Koonambil, many of whom I’ve known all my life (and they have known my family before me) so I can relate to a lot of them. I know some of them don’t have friends or family close by and able to visit, and so I like to fill that void and make sure they know they have someone there who cares.
And it’s not all one-sided. It doesn’t matter how old you are, you can learn something new from our older generations each and every day. I love listening to them, hearing about their lives and their growing up. Some of them have some very interesting stories to tell, and it's just great to sit and listen to them.
Every week, I host ‘Knit & Knatter’, a craft afternoon on Tuesdays for residents to knit or crochet - although I’m just as happy for them to come and talk. It’s a very popular activity and we all have such fun together. The residents seem to really enjoy the sessions, they can't thank you enough when the leave. I think it's just nice for them to see someone different because they see all the staff every other day, so another face to talk to is nice for them.
Once a month I’m also an independent convener at the Residents’ Meeting, where residents meet without any staff and discuss anything they like with me. As a community member I act in their interests and champion their causes, and then provide two-way feedback between residents and the Koonambil staff and management. I think having someone that residents can trust and communicate with is absolutely important for all everyone.
I think anyone working in aged care needs to be able to relate to the resident and have a calming affect on them, and most importantly be very very patient, understanding and compassionate.
If you enjoy being around older people, and if you've got time to spare - because they like to sit and natter – I would encourage you to get involved in aged care. I'll stay volunteering at Koonambil as long as I'm able because I find it incredibly rewarding.