News & Events

Errol aims to please

February 19, 2018

Errol McKenzie’s two main careers don’t have much in common at first glance. She worked in a carnival for years before taking up a job at OCAV’s Residential care, which was then located at the Rushall Park village in North Fitzroy. The carnival job with Wittingslow Amusements took her to agriculture shows in Victoria, Queensland, NSW and South Australia from 1980 to 1987. Her job was about making sure people had a great experience. Now, as assisted living coordinator at Rushall Park, she has the same goal.

 

Errol recently celebrated 30 years with OCAV and loves her job as much today as she did when she left the carnival to resume her nursing career in 1988, caring for elderly people in the OCAV Residential care.

 

Trained as a nurse at Auckland Public Hospital in New Zealand, Errol came to Australia for a holiday and never went home. She met a man and worked in the carnival for years before deciding her young sons needed a more settled life.

 

She got a job nursing at the then 17-bed Ian Rollo Currie Residential care at Rushall Park. After a decade nursing she decided on a change and trained in diversional therapy, working with residents for 12 years.

 

In 2010 Errol became assisted living coordinator and works closely with residents living in the 15 assisted living apartments. Her job description covers everything from supporting residents in their day-to-day lives; helping with any health issues and when they return from hospital; helping with personal care and medication and liaising with families. At lunchtimes you can find Errol in the dining room with residents from the apartments, making sure things are going okay.

 

“It’s an important time to be with the residents and ensure they are managing well. If they have any problems it is sometimes easier to chat about that over lunch,” Errol said.

 

“The residents and I get to know each other well because we have a lot to do with one another. I treat them as I would treat a friend, someone I want to make sure is doing as well as they possibly can. There’s a great sense of welcome between us.”

 

Errol, in addition to her busy work schedule, regularly volunteers with Melbourne City Mission, visiting elderly people who live alone and want companionship. It’s a demanding volunteer role, but Errol considers it a privilege.

 

“I visit the ladies each week and I love chatting to them. And I keep going to see them until they die,” she said. “Some of them have no one else to visit them.”

 

Some study and travel will also take up some of her spare time, especially trips home to New Zealand where most of her family still lives. She doesn’t regret crossing the ditch so many years ago and starting a new life, in fact she can’t imagine her life being any different.

 

“I love working here, it’s really been an honour for me to work with these people every day. From day one I have always had this commitment to make life good for the people who live here. But there’s a strong sense of that across the whole community and especially with the staff,” she said.

 

Errol has been at OCAV for 30 years, but her approach captures a lot of what OCAV’s Vision 2020 is all about – making OCAV a great place to live and work, and assisting more older Victorians in need.

"I love the fact that Rushall Park residents and volunteers are so active – contributing to life in the village. The sense of the community is strong which is why I put my name on the waiting list" - Maggie Birkett.

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