One of the great joys of working with older people is listening and learning from them when they share the stories of their past. Perhaps not surprisingly, it is not always the significant world events that matter to them the most, rather the personal stories of triumph, survival and resilience.
Some share their sporting successes or career highlights, but often it is how much they enjoyed the everyday pleasures of a simpler time, such as trips to the beach, camping in the bush or a homemade pudding at Christmas time. For many, it is the recent achievements of their later years that they wish to share, such as finishing a degree, writing a book or volunteering.
Some share stories of resilience through difficult times – about mateship and camaraderie. Rarely do these seem to be about the importance of a specific historical event, but rather how it made them feel and how their family was affected.
It does make you wonder how we will recall our experiences of this past year. Will we decry the lack of toilet paper or the inconveniences placed on our social activities? Or rather, will we share how good it felt to be playing board games or doing puzzles for the first time in decades, or the joy of getting together with family, when family gatherings were allowed?
One thing that will have a lasting impact for me, will be the memory of those brave people who put themselves in harm’s way to assist others in a time of crisis.
Aged care staff from around the country have volunteered to be part of the Aged Care Emergency Response. For them, it meant four weeks away from their loved ones, working at an aged care home in a COVID-19 hotspot in Melbourne, followed by a further two weeks in isolation. They have endured a significant disruption to their own lives, to selflessly volunteer to support others in need.
I can picture these selfless workers telling their grandchildren about how they had to wear multiple layers of suffocating personal protective equipment to shield themselves from an invisible foe. They will have formed great bonds with their fellow team mates, with whom they shared the experience, living in lockdown in an unfamiliar city. They won’t be telling stories about how they went without, but rather what they did for good.
I cannot wait to hear them!
Resthaven’s Chief Executive Officer
‘Thank you to the Resthaven staff who volunteered to work in a COVID-19 positive aged care home in Victoria. We’re so proud and glad to welcome them back home safe and sound. Thanks to this inspirational team of six who were part of the National Aged Care Emergency Response: Eleanor, Anne, Catherine, Trudi, Belinda and Vicky.