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One bingo call at a time with Deb

September 8, 2020

“Legs 11…”  “Knock at the door – four….” “Two little ducks – 22” …And so the Monday calling of bingo begins down the corridors of Liscombe House.

It is one of the most popular activities of the week among the 81 residents, and not least because it is led by the dynamic volunteer Deb McKay.

Deb began volunteering at Liscombe House in 2013 and, together with her husband Bruce, is a familiar figure around the aged care home.

She is in twice a week – calling bingo and the Word Game on Mondays and bingo again on Friday. “It is fun, it keeps people focused even for a while, and there is a wonderful sense of camaraderie as each player emerges from their bedroom to sit in their doorway to enjoy the games and laugh,” Deb said.

Deb came to volunteering after leaving her job as an insurance claims clerk to look after her parents.  Her father had been diagnosed with cancer and her mother had heart issues. After they died, she was left wanting to do something but did not want to return to the workforce.

“So, I googled the words ‘Volunteer’ and ‘Nillumbik’ and a volunteering position at Leith Park popped up, asking for someone to assist a resident with shopping,” Deb said.

“It seemed serendipitous as my late mother-in-law had been a resident in the village which I took that as a sign and sent off an email to someone called Kim.”

A couple of days later, and Deb was contacted by Kim D’Angelis, Volunteer Coordinator, to tell her that the assistant shopper was no longer required but would she like to come in for a chat in any case.

And the rest is history. Volunteering is important to Deb, enabling her to contribute in the aged care sector that she believes is often ignored until there is a crisis.

“I love it when the residents get downright cheeky.  I love it when we get a bit too loud with laughing. I also feel privileged if one of our residents chooses to trust me enough with their life story. And they all have stories, some funny, some amazing, and some heart breaking.  These are precious moments,” she said.

For her, volunteering is about wanting to be at Liscombe House, not having to be there.“I think that the residents feel that a volunteer is someone who can take the time to listen, to talk and to help out with little things like finding lost specs,” she said.

The advent of the coronavirus pandemic and the recent lockdown has been challenging for everyone at Liscombe House. The number of volunteers has been restricted to minimise the risk of introducing the virus. For Deb and the handful of volunteers helping throughout, it has been rewarding and an honour.

“We know how much residents miss seeing their families and friends regularly – even with all the wonderful measures like window visits, skype, and other technology that have been put in place. It makes our role in their lives, at least temporarily, more important.”

Deb’s life, however, is not centred on volunteering. She loves getting outside to relax and enjoy time in the garden.

“That is my relaxation. It keeps me busy and grounded,” Deb said.

 

Keith White, who had heart surgery two years ago, reckons he’s better now than he has ever been. He puts his state of health and well-being down to the life he has found at Currie Park, OCAV’s village in Euroa.

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