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Doing right by elderly

Jim Nihill had a committed follower in tow during his regular visits to Moyola Lodge.

ASHLEIGH WILLIAMSON July 2, 2014 3:25am

New Moyola Lodge board member Claire Nihill (right) with resident Cliff Bunn, 85.


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Claire Nihill has fond memories of following her late father to chat to the Tatura aged-care facility’s residents.

Ms Nihill, 46, last month joined Moyola’s nine-person board.

‘‘If Dad was walking down the street and got the paper . . . he would always pop in to Moyola and see some of his old mates,’’ Ms Nihill said.

‘‘He knew them all. He would visit them all the time.

‘‘Because my Dad used to do that and I remember that and they remember him quite well, I think Moyola has a lovely, fond memory for me.’’

Ms Nihill returned to Tatura in November last year after about 25 years of living away from her home town.

A pub discussion with a girlfriend, whose partner is on Moyola’s board, led to Ms Nihill being asked to join the board.

‘‘It’s kind of one of those places everybody in Tat knows about,’’ Ms Nihill said.

‘‘I think because it’s always been such a friendly place, you can just walk in and say hello to people.

‘‘There’s always someone out the front sitting in the sunshine.’’

Ms Nihill said attending Sacred Heart Primary School — next to Moyola — taught her the importance of caring for the elderly.

‘‘I think just knowing that actually popping in and visiting people in a nursing home is a really important thing to do. It might only be five minutes, but it can make somebody’s day,’’ she said.

Ms Nihill returned to Tatura with a higher education and marketing background.

She worked with students with a disability at La Trobe University Bendigo and worked with Deakin University Geelong academics on an inclusive practice project.

‘‘I’m interested from an equity standpoint that we do the right thing by our elderly,’’ she said.

‘‘I’m interested that the advertising, the marketing, the face of Moyola is good and . . . promoting it from a personal face.

‘‘It’s not just a place, it’s full of people that we know.’’

Ms Nihill said Moyola’s residents made the facility such a wonderful place.

‘‘It’s about memories and really understanding people that come in there and understanding their stories and not just seeing them as an old person.

‘‘They are actually people who have amazing stories, histories and memories.’’

Ms Nihill said there were challenges ahead for community-owned and operated facilities such as Moyola with government legislation changes from today.

‘‘If (the aged-care sector) is going to be more privatised, then we are going to have to work harder to maintain a great service,’’ she said.

Moyola service manager Polly Devine said Ms Nihill’s communications and marketing skills would be an asset to the organisation.

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