From trauma nurse to volunteer: Linda shares new lease on life at Resthaven

Volunteer Linda O'Neil (left) with Nav Kaur (right) at Aberfoyle Park

This submission from South Australian aged care provider Resthaven Aberfoyle Park is part of this week’s National Volunteer Week and Inside Ageing’s desire to share stories to do with those people giving their time in a volunteer capacity. If you or someone you know is making a difference please email our news desk with an overview. Don’t feel the submission needs to be professionally written – just supply whatever you have…news@insideageing.com.au

Linda O’Neill, a retired trauma nurse, has found a new sense of purpose and fulfilment through her volunteer work at Resthaven Aberfoyle Park. Since discovering the opportunity in June 2021, Linda has dedicated her time and energy to making a positive difference in the lives of the residents and staff at the aged care facility.

Having worked as a nurse for nearly 50 years, including in high-stress trauma situations, Linda developed a deep appreciation for helping those in need. Upon retiring, she felt the desire to continue making a meaningful impact. It was during this search for a new outlet that she stumbled upon Resthaven.

Reflecting on her decision to volunteer, Linda shared, “There is something special about coming in as a volunteer – you don’t have to be there, but you want to be there, for the residents, and for the staff.”

She began assisting the Lifestyle team at Resthaven every Thursday and Friday morning, going above and beyond to ensure a warm and welcoming environment for everyone.

One of Linda’s regular tasks is preparing coffee and tea for the residents an hour before their activities begin. However, she also takes joy in engaging with residents on a more personal level, especially those who may be hesitant to leave their rooms. Linda spends time talking to them about their day and often accompanies them on walks in the garden or finds a quiet spot to sit and read together. Her presence and encouragement have made a significant difference in their lives, boosting their confidence and overall well-being.

‘It is a great thing to be able to use your time to give back to older people, and trust me, you get more out of it than your give!’

Linda O’Neill

In addition to her regular volunteer duties, Linda participates in Resthaven’s winter initiative, helping the Lifestyle team deliver packages to the homeless. She emphasises the joy and sense of purpose it brings to the residents, knowing that their blankets and beanies are going to those in need.

Linda praises the dedicated staff members at Resthaven who provide exceptional care and respect to the residents and their families. She believes that using her time to give back to older people is a rewarding experience that enriches her own life.

Resthaven, established in 1935, is a not-for-profit aged care community service in South Australia associated with the Uniting Church in Australia. It offers a comprehensive range of aged care service options and operates throughout metropolitan Adelaide, the Adelaide Hills, Murraylands, Riverland, Fleurieu Peninsula, lower Barossa region, and the Limestone Coast of South Australia.

Linda’s story serves as an inspiration to retirees and individuals looking to make a positive impact in their communities. Her commitment to helping others and her genuine care for the residents at Resthaven Aberfoyle Park highlight the importance of volunteering and the immeasurable benefits it brings to both the giver and the receiver.

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