FOSTERING social interaction and community connections among senior citizens has been the focus of one Penola resident for almost four decades.
Sue Butler has now officially retired from her day centre coordination position at Penola Memorial Hospital following a 37-year career, taking many positive memories into her next life phase.
Speaking to The Pennant, Ms Butler said she started the occupation in 1982, offered the job while paying for her daughter’s physiotherapy bill at the facility.
Over the decades, Ms Butler has seen first-hand the benefits of her role, which supports elderly residents in leaving their homes and engaging in activities throughout the district.
Ms Butler has organised a number of interstate group trips to Victoria as well as trips around the Limestone Coast, with regular activities offered in the hospital day room.
“The games were usually varied such as board games and other activities to help keep their minds active,” Ms Butler said.
“But it was the stimulation of socialisation that led to the bigger things with aged care.”
Ms Butler said during her time in the position she watched many elderly residents grow confidence in themselves and socially.
“The program was all about getting them out of their four walls and back into society,” she said.
“People would brighten up at the smallest things and I think that was the best thing about the job.”
Alongside the day trips and activities, Ms Butler said she was comforted by knowing residents had access to “a few good meals a week”.
“Just being out among people brings them out and makes them talk and communicate,” she said.
“We have planned many small trips away which are great not only for the residents but also for the families.
“The families would have peace of mind knowing the residents are away, safe and with us.”
Ms Butler said the job was rewarding and often came with a “happy thank you” from participants.
“There were some amazing residents such as this one lady who would use her walker all the time in her home,” she said.
“But once she came with us on a trip to Halls Gap she did not use it once.
“The trip gave her confidence to get out and move around.”
Ms Butler said she now intends to focus on maintaining her farm and travel.
“I am looking forward to looking after my garden more,” she said.
“The thing with this job is the years have just flown by.
“But I have had fantastic bosses who have listened to everything I had to say and I have loved the job overall.”