News & Events

Are you okay today?

August 17, 2016

Anne Maree Oppedisano

OCAV has changed a lot in recent decades in a bid to offer residents the best possible facilities and services. But there’s one thing that hasn’t changed and that’s the personal daily check of residents across the four villages.

Every morning Anne Maree Oppedisano visits each of the 118 independent living units at Leith Park in St Helena to ensure the residents are okay. The job is shared to cover the seven days of the week and the same happens at Rushall Park, Braeside Park and Currie Park.

Every home has a sliding card at the front door, which features the resident’s name on one side and a message, I am/we are well, on the other side.  Residents slide the card across first thing in the morning to show they are well, letting staff know they are up and into the day.

If Anne Maree sees the card has not been moved she knocks on their door, if there is no response she rings their phone (mobile or landline).  If there is still no response, another staff member will join her and together they will enter the unit.

Several times over the past three and a half years Anne Maree has found a resident, who had not moved their card, on the floor in their unit and needing medical assistance. Every unit has a key safe at the entrance, which enables emergency services to gain access in the event of an emergency.

As well as checking on each resident, Anne Maree loads up her backpack and delivers the mail, crisscrossing the undulating Leith Park village, which keeps her fit and well connected to residents. She also collects any maintenance requests from residents.

“I know all the residents and have a quick chat to most of them at some time during the week. I usually know if a resident seems a bit off colour and I am watching out for them,” Anne Maree said.

“The residents flick the card across when they get up for the day so I know they are okay. Some forget and they will yell out to me when I knock. After a few years you get to know which days, which ladies go to do their shopping, or get their hair done.”

Anne Maree is a welcome face for some residents who don’t get out much. They look forward to her morning cheer and the security of knowing they are being cared for, while at the same time having their privacy respected.

Most days she covers her ground in two hours, and reckons she has the best job in the world, except on freezing cold mornings or during torrential rain. But some days she walks around with a heavy heart.

“The other day one of the residents died. I can’t help but get attached to the people I see every day and it makes me so sad when I come to work and get told a resident has died.”

OCAV’s boss Phillip Wohlers believes the personalised system of care is an important feature that is not common amongst retirement villages. “Some have an electronic system where the resident presses a buzzer to indicate they are ok but we prefer the human approach,” he said.

“It has proved a life-saving service. There have been many occasions when the presence of a staff member like Anne Maree has saved a life.  The most common incidents are when a resident gets up to go to the bathroom during the night, slips, falls and staff find them there the following morning.”

Residents are also offered a personal alarm at no cost, which enables them emergency contact without the need to get to a phone.


Sanctuary is how artist Gillian Coates describes her home at Currie Park, OCAV’s village in Euroa. “When I go to Melbourne and I am heading back to Euroa, I can’t wait to get home to the peacefulness of this place. It is like a sanctuary for me."

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