William Ruthven Secondary Y Challenge volunteer crew recently visited Twin Parks Aged Care in Reservoir, and were surprised by the caring staff and happy residents, as well as how bright, spacious and well maintained the premises were.
The WRSC crew, Ralph Hipolito, Stella Novello and Liv Villemin, rapidly secured their placement at the centre in Term 1 and over the ensuing months formed a strong bond with the residents, and the leisure activities staff, Grace Yang and Sophia.
The WRSC students had some experience dealing with the elderly, mainly through caring for aging relatives, but at Twin Parks, they are proving to be magnificent assets to the centre’s leisure program. Their supervisor Grace believes their work is quite frankly, “excellent”.
“Regardless of the job we have asked them to do, they show the same enthusiasm,” Grace reported. “All of the students have been very approachable, empathetic and have a clear understanding of the needs of elderly people. It’s great to have such responsible students here when the entertainment is finished and the residents make their way to the dining areas. There are three dining areas and some of the people get disoriented. It’s great to have so many extra and willing people available to gently escort them to where they should be.”
Often, as the students arrive, the afternoon entertainment is drawing to a close and the WRSC students set to work cleaning the area and rearranging the furniture.
“Sometimes we find ourselves involved in the entertainment,” Liv explains. “One time we arrived when there were birthday celebrations for several residents on the same day. We got right in there, dancing, taking photos, helping the birthday people cut and serve cake. It was lovely.”
Grace has been particularly impressed by Ralph.
“He is so brainy. He has an excellent memory and even without directly explaining things to him, he is always watching and learning”.
His memory serves him well when Ralph plays cards with the male residents as the girls get to work painting the nails of the ladies.
As well as carrying out the activities that Grace and Sophia have prepared, they take the time to ask questions and to reflect on ways they can improve their work.
“We talk to the residents but one thing we could do better is to stop and have real conversations, instead of just asking or answering questions,” Stella explains.
For Liv, one of the best times so far was when they were chatting with Mary, who was well past 100 years old.
“She told us all about her life. She had some great stories and she told us that the most important thing in life is to enjoy yourself in everything you do. We all thought she was inspirational”.
Y Challenge and Grace Yang have given these three wonderful WRSC students a rare opportunity to play an important part in the lives of these elderly people. The developing relationships between the generations has clearly enriched both.