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Pauline is Friday’s companion

May 18, 2019

National Volunteer Week

Pauline Cleeve spends every Friday volunteering at Liscombe House, OCAV’s aged care facility at St Helena. Her work could be summed up in one word – companionship. Through the day, out walking with residents in the garden, visiting residents in their rooms or playing bingo, she is offering friendship and companionship to someone.

Pauline’s connection with Liscombe House began long before she became a volunteer about 18 months ago. Her mother moved into an independent unit at Leith Park in 2002 and then when she needed more care she moved into Liscombe House before her death two years ago.

“I saw the care that my mother received from everyone in the place and I wanted to offer that in some small way to the residents who are living there today. My mother got sick and went to hospital, but she really wanted to come ‘home’ to Liscombe House to die and she did,” Pauline said.

Pauline’s volunteering day starts with a garden walk with a regular group of about eight residents, ably assisted by one resident who had a long career in horticulture. Some of the residents have dementia, but talk of plants and seasons almost always triggers a conversation within the group. A highlight of the walk is the presence of a Frogmouth family who have set up camp in one of the trees.

“My mother had dementia and I spent a lot of time visiting her so I am comfortable with what dementia can be like for people. It doesn’t worry me at all and I know that it is much better to talk about things in general rather than try for details,” Pauline said.

After the walk Pauline does individual room visits to about 10 residents who are fairly isolated and have few other visitors. She has come to know the residents she visits and is familiar with the things they like to talk about. Staff give her the list of residents to visit along with notes about the person, such as their likes and dislikes.

“Some of the residents remember me from week to week and some don’t, so we start those visits with a clean slate. Many of the residents have come from this area and they have families living in the area so we always have lots of familiar things to talk about because I have lived in Eltham for 37 years,” Pauline said.

Friday afternoon is bingo time in the Liscombe House and then Pauline’s day of volunteering comes to a close.​ She loves the new ‘work’ she took on after leaving a long career in customer service with Energy Australia. Although very rewarding it was very stressful.

“Once I finished work I decided to do something every day because I like to keep busy, so I play netball and sing and I volunteer at Liscombe House. I like giving back to Liscombe House especially after seeing how good they were to my Mum,” Pauline said.

“The other thing about volunteering at Liscombe House is that it is enjoyable and relaxing. There’s no pressure and no one is judging me. In fact, I feel valued.”

Caption: Pauline with resident Peg Willcocks.

"There is nothing I would change that would make my life any better. I have two loving sons and family and I thank God every day that OCAV took me in when I had nothing," said Jill Dale, Braeside Park resident.

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