News & Events

Marlene got lucky

February 20, 2017

Marlene Timmins can’t believe her good luck. Fifteen years ago she found a job that involves spending her workday in the company of friends. She cooks for them, cleans for them and checks every morning to make sure they are okay.


Marlene is one of the workers at OCAV’s Braeside Park village. Like most of the staff at the Berwick village she does a bit of everything and that’s how she likes it. “It means that we get to learn a lot, get to know the residents and work well with each other to create a great environment,” Marlene said.


Marlene works four or five days each week and starts her day preparing breakfast for the people in the 14 assisted living units. She then goes around the 34 independent units checking to ensure all residents are okay. After that it’s time to cook the main lunch and prepare a light evening meal for people to take back to their apartments.


It sounds like hard work cooking for a very big family, but it’s the highlight of Marlene’s day. Over the years she has learned a lot about the nutritional needs of various people and makes sure she provides enjoyable meals for everyone including residents who are diabetic, gluten intolerant and vegetarian.


The open plan kitchen means some of the residents come to lunch early to fill her in on the day’s news and to enjoy her company.


“I love cooking for the residents and it does feel like I am cooking for a big family. I want to make sure they have a tasty meal and enjoy the time in the dining room,” Marlene said.


“Because I love cooking I generally make everything from scratch. I don’t serve frozen meals or high fat packet food. If there’s a cake, I usually make it. Our food is so fresh, in fact some of it is picked that day by residents from the communal garden and then given to me to use. Yesterday I made a salad using tomatoes and cucumbers that were straight off the bush,” Marlene said.


Marlene is also recognised as a ‘fix-it’ kind of woman. On the weekend when the handyman is off she will respond to any call that she can. “I will fix a light bulb or do any of those sorts of jobs. One weekend I changed a car tyre for someone.”


Like many staff across the four villages Marlene forms close friendships with some of the residents and is saddened when they become sick or passes away. But it’s the price she is willing to pay to work at Braeside Park.


“It is really sad when a resident passes away, but because that person has made their mark here, they are never forgotten. We often share stories or memories with each other about someone who has passed away and there’s a shared happiness for who that person was and what she or he brought to the village life,” Marlene said.


“There are some really amazing people living here and I have learned so much in my 15 years. Being here has also given me a lot. I have become a more confident person knowing that I can make someone’s life a little easier, or happier, so easily. I really love knowing that I can make a difference by treating the people here with respect and a bit of cheer.”

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