Some of Sarah’s favourite memories include the times she visited her nan at the aged care residence where she lived, playing games with her, and entertaining her, ensuring she had a bit of fun in her day.
During one of her visits in 2014, Sarah was approached by the Lifestyle Coordinator, David, who told her that she should consider Lifestyle as a career.
“I didn’t even know it was a job!” laughed Sarah. “So, I looked up the course (Certificate IV Leisure and Health), and the next thing I was doing my placement with David which was so fun.”
Now, Sarah is the Lifestyle Coordinator at VMCH Wantirna Aged Care Residence, and David, now retired, commences his role as a Lifestyle volunteer with Sarah in 2017.
David, who previously worked for Telstra for 21 years before he changed career paths now volunteers because “it’s more care, and less responsibility.” He is also very passionate about the time he spends with the elderly.
“David has such great ideas,” Sarah says. “And being a male, he can understand what our male residents are interested in. We always get a big crowd for David’s quizzes.”
David understands that men are generally less social than women. So, he runs a quiz with questions that are tailored to the residents, depending on their personal interests, previous careers, or nationality.
“One of our residents was a chemist,” said David. “I’ll tailor questions for him, like what the elemental symbol is for iron. We also have a big car enthusiast, so I ask questions about driving championships. I also try to fit a couple of Dutch questions in!”
This highlights what David and Sarah believe is the most important part of their job. Knowing the residents.
Wantirna is a 96-bed residence. And Sarah and David know each of those residents, where their rooms are, and what their interests are.
According to Sarah, they believe it important to get to know what the residents like, enjoy and are interested in, and they plan their activities around that.
“That’s how we get people to join in because they just won’t if it’s not connected to them in some way.
“In this job, you have to be dedicated. You have to listen and get to learn about the residents as much as possible. A lot of them love to have a chat, and you need to find the time to be able to do that. That’s how you learn about them.”
David agrees wholeheartedly.
“Volunteering is amazing. You get to meet new people all the time and hear about their lives. That generation have so many stories, they’ve seen World War II, the Depression. They’re known as the silent generation, which is a shame because they have seen some amazing things and have great stories to tell.”
David says he is an introvert.
“But I’ve learned that it doesn’t matter if you look like an idiot, by dressing up and acting a fool. You bring joy to their life, and you have to be prepared to laugh at yourself.”
Sarah agrees and says that David brings so much joy to the residence with his wide range of outfits for every occasion, including his yearly stint as Santa, or his bright yellow suit that he wears for Daffodil Day.
“Seeing them laugh and smile is the best. And at the end of an event, they’ll say ‘thank you for inviting me’ which is so unnecessary. But it’s great that they have such a good time.”