Rob is a Lifestyle Coordinator at our Copperhouse Court home in Whyalla, traditional home of the Barngarla people.
Rob was born and raised in Whyalla, and spent many years living in Melbourne and Adelaide, before deciding to return home. ‘I thought, that’s enough running around mate. I’d experienced life in a big city, my parents were getting older, and don’t even get me started on the Melbourne weather. It was time to come home’, says Rob.
‘Being back in Whyalla was fantastic. Whyalla has so much to offer, and everything is 5 minutes away. I left Whyalla thinking there wasn’t much going on here. But it’s what you make it. You can live as fast, or as slow, as you like. Living in the city, I missed the smell of saltbush and looking up and seeing the stars in the sky.
‘When I came back in 2006, I was in the unique position of working in an aged care setting, as well as with a local youth arts organisation called D’Faces Youth Arts, that I continued to be involved with for many years. I love the raw honesty from both these generations, it keeps me feeling youthful and centred.
‘My first experience in aged care was as a volunteer in a Memory Support Unit. ‘I thought “Wow, this is real life!”. At first, being with older people living with dementia was confronting, but they taught me patience, understanding and compassion and I was able to tap into my creative side as a performer to create those special moments that can mean so much.
‘I was then offered the opportunity to do some training and I haven’t looked back.’
Rob’s motto is simple. ‘Show up on time. Turn up to ready to engage and discover. Change “hats” and “mindsets” as required.’
‘We are working in their home and I never lose sight of that’, says Rob. ‘Some of the residents call me the “boss” but I like to remind everyone that I’m really just the “fun boss” putting together activities and experiences that bring smiles and happiness.
‘You can’t go far in a small town. People move into Copperhouse Court and discover they used to live in the same street or worked together. It’s a very social and connected place. One resident who moved here turned out to be my kindy teacher. She helped me in my early years, and then it was my turn to help her. Everything comes full circle.’
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