News & Events

Having words with two Jeans

February 26, 2019

Chloe Zammit has learned a lot in the eight months since she started volunteering at Liscombe House, OCAV’s aged care facility. Mostly, she has gained a greater understanding of, and appreciation for, the views of older people who she visits every week.

Each week, Chloe, a full-time psychology student at La Trobe University, visits Liscombe House and reads the newspaper to regulars Jean Lee and Jean Matthews, both in their 90s. They join Chloe and listen to the stories she reads and then discuss the issues. Chloe offers her contemporary view and the ‘two Jeans’ share years of wisdom, and often an alternate view, with Chloe.

“Sometimes we will have really different perspectives but we all listen to each other and respect what the other has to say. I often think over what the Jeans have said and really value their perspective. We enjoy each other’s company and ideas,” Chloe said.

In January after reading articles about the Australia Day rallies in Sydney and Melbourne, Chloe and the two Jeans had a frank, but ‘polite debate’, about the rights or wrongs of changing the date of the celebrations. Chloe is in favour of a date change.

“I’m not sure we convinced each other of our different positions, but the Jeans were really interested in hearing what I thought and I gained an understanding of why they want the January 26 date to stay. I think we are all good listeners and we want to hear what each other thinks,” she said.

Chloe, 21, was no novice in the field of aged care when she first started volunteering. As a teenager she spent many years doing odd jobs after school for an older lady who was housebound. Even then she was aware of how few of her friends had much to do with older people.

“It makes me sad that many older people are left alone and don’t feel that they are valued. I find it really inspiring that the two Jeans are very connected to the wider world. They might not get around as much as they once did, but they are really interested in what is going on. That’s the case with lots of older people, but I think young people assume that when you get old you lose interest in the world,” Chloe said. “I hope that my time with the two Jeans makes them feel better. It certainly makes me feel better. When I leave Liscombe House each week the world looks a better place.”

Chloe knows first hand the benefits of volunteering. She suffers anxiety and since volunteering at Liscombe House she feels that her confidence in social settings has improved and the ladies she visits each week have given her a stronger sense of worth in herself. She has now felt able to return to her part-time job, as well as prepare for another year at university.

“Some days when I’m not feeling so good and I know I am volunteering, I get out of bed because I know the Jeans are expecting me and I have made a commitment,” she said.

“And as soon as I get there I am glad I came. More people should do it.”

Caption: Chloe at her weekly newspaper reading and discussion with the two Jeans – Jean Lee and Jean Matthews.

Volunteering is important to Deb, enabling her to contribute in the aged care sector. “I love it when the residents get downright cheeky. I love it when we get a bit too loud with laughing."

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