ONE COMMUNITY: Clifton Community Health Service lifestyle co-ordinator Jade Gilchrist and resident representative Anne Kersley.
ONE COMMUNITY: Clifton Community Health Service lifestyle co-ordinator Jade Gilchrist and resident representative Anne Kersley.

Lifestyle co-ordinator reveals how to maximise opportunities

LIFESTYLE co-ordinator is a career many may not have heard of, but for Jade Gilchrist it means making sure that everyone in Clifton Community Health Service's aged care gets the most out of life.

"For me, working here has been like hitting the jackpot; it's such a positive, nurturing environment, a great team, and management that always puts residents' needs first," Jade said.

Established in 1949, so celebrating 70 years, Clifton Community Health Services is a community owned and run, not-for- profit co-operative that operates a small private hospital, bulk-billing medical practice, nursing home, hostel, and independent living villas, and recently added a diversional therapy centre and the 12-bed Memory Support Unit, Sunflower Lodge. Jade has been at the service for nine months, but has a background in diversional therapy of more than 20 years in aged care, disability, community care and education.

She has already introduced a number of new initiatives - ones producing significant enough results to have prompted a call to Seniors from a community member saying we "really need to talk to Jade and her diversional therapy team".

And she has some pretty exciting plans for the future involving a potential first in aged care ... watch this space.

Jade's emphasis in everything she does is on maximising people's abilities and opportunities, breaking down divides, increasing the feeling of community between staff and residents, and giving 110 per cent.

"We look at people's strengths, not their weaknesses, and identify what people can do, and build activities around that," Jade said.

With an increased push towards people staying at home longer, and more services making it possible to do so, Jade said nursing home residents had changed greatly over the past 20 years, with most now having high-care needs, including for many, elements of dementia.

"But dementia affects everyone in a different way, so our diversional therapists work with each person in the moment so they have what they need to engage them," she said.

For some, that may mean looking at farm machinery online, latest models or farming techniques, for others dancing, music, and reminiscing, for another doing some housework, so they feel they are achieving something.

"It's so important that people feel needed and that they still have a role to play," Jade said.

She is open to taking on residents' ideas, with monthly meetings as well as creating a Resident Representative role, so residents have one of their own with whom they feel happy to share comments, praise and complaints to be passed on.

"This is the silent generation we are talking about - they don't like to make a fuss," Jade said.

The Baby Boomers coming through in the next generation, she believes, will be much happier to stand up and advocate for themselves - something that, as a trained anthropologist as well, she has written a paper about, identifying how demands on aged care will change.

Other activities include Games Tuesday, trivia sessions, happy hour, spiritual services for different faiths, entertainment and activities marking special events.

And being a community co-op, many activities are also open to the public.

To find out more about Clifton Community Health Services, go to cliftonhospital.org or phone 0746973735.


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