Aine O’Connell,
Volunteer at The Cottage,
​Dementia Day Centre

At the time of applying for the position, I could never have predicted the attachment or enjoyment I would find with the people at The Cottage.Having never worked with the elderly I didn’t quite know what to expect, but a chat with Amy Drewe left me with a greater understanding of the community at the Cottage.My first day was fun. I spent time observing the schedule of the day and what the clients enjoyed and developing a conversation with each one. The first day was mainly letting the group get to know me and developing a rapport, which was lovely for me. I felt I was given a great opportunity to settle in and for people to get to know me.

Everyone was so kind and asked questions of me. They told me stories about their lives, travels and professional work they had done. I was amazed how much I learnt from the room on the first day!

“Friday at the Cottage is a highlight of my week”

I love going to The Cottage on a Friday. From the colleagues to the community, I could never have imagined meeting the people I have. The care and conversation between the people and staff is heart-warming. We have fun and enjoy being there and I have developed a strong emotional attachment to each member of the group.

My normal routine at The Cottage begins with helping with morning tea. I mainly interact, play music, sing, hold current affair conversations and just listen to everyone. The group are kind and are always happy to chat or take part in the games. To know everyone has a nutritious meal in them for the day is also nice to see.

The interaction, games and activities are such an important part of the day. Clients stimulate every part of their brain, as well as their hearts. The singing and conversation is heart-felt interaction and to hear them sing at the top of their lungs and laugh out loud is special. The atmosphere on a Friday in The Cottage is high and full of energy.

”The most valuable thing about the Cottage is simply that it exists.”

It’s there! These people crave social interaction in a safe and different environment. The power of human interaction to break a monotonous cycle cannot be measured. Having people around and to know you’re safe and treated with respect is important to them. The independence it gives them
can be seen and felt in the interactions.

The most valuable is the amount of conversation and interaction. The clients speak to each other and join in all games and activities we do. It really is an inclusive atmosphere, and everyone is happy to participate.

At the time of choosing, I wasn’t quite sure why I was so drawn to this role, but after a few weeks it was quite apparent. The joy in the interaction and watching everyone open to a lighter side of life is inspiring.

They are truly gifted and to be around them is an amazingly humbling experience. It’s not just what I’ve learned but what I have experienced in the presence of these people.

My Path to The Cottage 

I have worked in scientific research and construction, managing and structuring operations, while also being a qualified personal trainer, energy healer, and sound therapist, working in the health industry for three years.

My professional career is Health and Healing, running and writing for five brands with the goal of empowering people to regain their health, identity, and direction in life, through to a holistic leadership program.

I thoroughly enjoy my time at The Cottage, and these people have made an immensely positive impact on my life. I had no experience with people with dementia. I did minimal research and learned a lot
from Amy Drewe, The Cottage Coordinator.

The reason for the minimal research was to avoid any pre-conceptions. I wanted to focus on what can be achieved and improving their experience, while monitoring and ensuring the group are happy. I also knew that I was going to continue to learn from Amy.

I look forward to going to The Cottage every week.

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