For the past 12 months, Wayne Hughes has been a familiar face at Ave Maria Village, an idyllic aged care home located in Shepparton, north of Victoria.
On a weekly basis, Wayne can spend up to 30 hours at the home performing various activities, from running men’s gatherings and indoor bowl competitions to assisting with outings such as bus trips for the residents.
Always immaculately dressed and sporting a name badge wherever he goes, it is only natural to assume that Wayne is an employee at the home.
An amused Wayne said, “I am here about three or four days a week, sometimes five. That’s why some visitors thought I am a staff member. I started volunteering at the home when my mum moved in a year ago. I figured that since I was already visiting my mum here, I might as well help out wherever I could.”
Residents and staff are very fond of Wayne, and only have high praise for him. A resident said, “There are people born into this world whose compassionate nature enables them to see the difficulties in the lives of others, and are prepared to give assistance where they can. Wayne is one of them. He does whatever he can to help people when he sees a need. He’s a gem.”
Among the many programs at the home, one of the most popular is the support group Wayne initiated to encourage residents to learn how to use a tablet computer to access the internet.
“He has opened up a whole new world of technology for our residents. He showed
them how tablets can be fun and easy to use. Now, we have many of residents who
have their own tablets and are learning to email and Skype with their family members.
It is simply amazing,” said Jan Christenson, lifestyle coordinator at the home.
A generous volunteer, Wayne shares his time and technical expertise with anyone
who needs it and is never judgmental, which further endears him to the residents and
“All of us love having Wayne around. It is never about him, it is always about the
residents. Not one to say no to challenges, he is always willing to have a go at
anything so he can support the residents better. He also spends one-on-one time with
our male residents and enjoy deep conversations with them over shared interests.
Wayne is very knowledgeable and the residents just love talking to him,” she said.
And what if Wayne doesn’t know a topic the residents were interested in? Jan said,
“He would go home, look it up and come back tomorrow with the answers!”