Serving those who served - Ruwan and Geoff's veterans' support and aged care story
A career in aged care introduces you to some of the greatest people you’ll ever meet.
For Ruwan, who works as a lifestyle coordinator at an RSL residential care facility, one of the greats is Geoff.
After a decade of working in a bank, Geoff joined the army, completing a year of service in Vietnam. After that, he lived a fascinating life in Europe, America, and then back in Australia. Geoff retired at 55, the same time he found out he had Parkinson’s disease.
Geoff now lives at the RSL Care centre where Ruwan works and the two have formed a relationship based on mutual respect and admiration.
“Ruwan has great capacity for leadership. That’s what I appreciate about him – he has the whole facility here working together,” says Geoff.
As the lifestyle coordinator for the centre, Ruwan helps residents remain social and engaged. His role is about understanding people’s interests and creating experiences for them to enjoy together.
Geoff, for example, loves his model trains.
“He has a lot of steam engines,” says Ruwan.
“If the weather is nice we go outside and run them. Geoff’s going to do a show of his steam engines for all the other residents!” he says.
Geoff speaks very highly of Ruwan, and his ability to bring people together. Whether it’s trains and photography like Geoff enjoys, or something else entirely, Ruwan’s job is about keeping people connected.
“He appeals to everyone’s particular interests and melds them all together. I’m very appreciative of Ruwan’s optimism and support. He gives me the motivation to drive on,” Geoff says.
“Thanks Geoff, I’ll have to give you some chocolate today!” says Ruwan, laughing.
“Geoff is a very interesting person, and a very popular one!” says Ruwan of Geoff. “He has a very good knowledge of just about everything.”
“A little knowledge is a dangerous thing,” Geoff adds.
“Not a little, a lot!” replies Ruwan, laughing again.
It is this constant stream of knowledge and experience that Ruwan points to as one of the key attractions of working in aged care and especially when working with veterans.
“It’s like living in a library, with all the knowledge and experience these people have,” says Ruwan.
“You learn so much in this job. Instead of reading about it in a book, you’re talking to the people who were there. They can tell you exactly what was happening around them,” he says.
Ruwan was an international student from Sri Lanka, before graduating and starting work in the aged care sector. After having the opportunity to work with some veterans, he decided to work with veterans full time – which, for him, couldn’t have been a better decision.
“Veterans’ care is the best thing you can do. It’s rewarding when you are able to serve those who served. These are the people who gave us the opportunity to live in this country,” says Ruwan.
On what makes a good care and support worker, Ruwan and Geoff agree that it’s about patience, tolerance and being a good listener.
“Veterans, like me, are very appreciative of the efforts taken to look after us,” says Geoff.
The care and support sector is now hiring. Working in aged care, disability and veterans’ support, you will learn and grow with on-the-job training, mentoring, peer support, and clients who are a good match for you.