Join in ... at Resthaven

Jan Menz invites you to volunteer at the Murray Bridge aged care facility.

“Join In” promotes community connections and wellbeing in the Murraylands – and it could promote your business, too. Murray Bridge News is seeking an ongoing sponsor for this regular feature. Call Peri on 0419 827 124 or email peri@murraybridge.news.

Sixty-three years have passed since Methodist minister Harry Griffiths’ vision of a home for the frail and elderly was realised in Murray Bridge.

Since then, Resthaven has grown into the Murraylands’ largest aged care facility, with room for 96 residents.

What do all those residents do from day to day?

Volunteers are responsible for many of their activities, from conversations and card games to classes and – before COVID came along – regular outings.

Jan Menz is one of them.

When did you first get involved with Resthaven?

I’ve volunteered here since 2009. I used to visit daily – my mother was here from 2006 to 2009. When she passed away, I started volunteering.

What do you get out of your involvement?

Interacting with the residents, hearing their stories, seeing their joy when they get involved with activities. It gets me out of the house. I come here on Thursday afternoons. I do get enjoyment from coming out here. One day, if I need to go into a nursing home, this would be the place I’d like to come.

Over the years, many of them have passed away that I knew. Hearing their stories is the best part, and seeing that they’re happy.

What is your fondest memory of your time with Resthaven?

When they started the renovations, they split the Harrip Wing into two areas. I was at a loose end. (Around that time) I had a one-hour visit with Robert (Lynch). He’s the longest-serving resident – he’s been here since 2002. He’s 96 now. He’s blind, but he knows a lot about football, so I started doing his footy tips with him. Then we started talking about racing, because he's got three grandsons in the racing industry. I tell him who’s entered what races and which horses have run, then we have a little tipping contest for the races. He has the same numbers each week – race one, number eight and so on – and we do Morphettville and one of the country races. There’s no money involved – it’s just for the fun of it all. He enjoys that, piling up his phantom money; and I get to hear his life story, which is interesting. All of our residents have a story to tell.

What do you spend your time doing each week?

When my mother was in here in the Harrip Wing, for dementia patients, to pass the time I’d bring some large cards. I’d go through my pack (and play) really simple card games. I started off (as a volunteer) doing that. We used to be here from one o’clock to half past four in the afternoon ... Before COVID, we used to go on bus trips ... There are so many activities for them to do here.

What is your goal with Resthaven?

(To get) the satisfaction of knowing I’m helping to put a smile on their faces.

Why should people volunteer at Resthaven?

For the satisfaction of knowing you’re doing something useful. You’ll meet some lovely people and help them enjoy their days. They have so many activities; but even just coming to talk to the residents is good. The carers haven’t always got time to sit down and listen to them. Come up here, sit there for an hour and have a chat with them. Ask them a few questions and you’ll get a life story that’ll interest you.

“Join In” aims to promote community connections and wellbeing in the Murraylands – and it could promote your business, too. Murray Bridge News is seeking an ongoing sponsor for this regular feature. Call Peri on 0419 827 124 or email peri@murraybridge.news.