News & Events
Bruce brings his Christmas cheer to OCAV
December 16, 2018
Bruce McKay has all the characteristics of a good Santa. He has a full silver beard, a big heart, describes himself as portly and would like to grant health and happiness to all the residents he has come to know at Liscombe House, OCAV’s aged-care facility.
Bruce’s volunteering brief was broadened this week when he played Santa at the Liscombe House Christmas Party. His jovial ways will be very familiar to residents who he visits for a chat every Tuesday and Friday.
Retired from a long career as a signal maintenance technician on Metro Rails Epping line, Bruce now divides his time between creating beautiful pieces of pottery at his studio in St Andrews and community work. His wife, Deb, inspired him to volunteer at OCAV almost 18 months ago. She has been a regular and much loved volunteer for five years and ensures that the weekly bingo game runs smoothly.
“After I retired I thought it would be good to do something for the community and Deb really enjoyed volunteering at Liscombe House so I thought I would try it too,” Bruce said.
Each week Bruce spends a social day with the men at Liscombe House. He pulls up a chair and has a chat. If the resident wants some quiet time Bruce moves on. His patience, compassion and sense of fun make him a sure fit for the work at Liscombe House.
“Every day I hear some amazing stories from these people. I have realized that a lot of people don’t have many visitors and some people are lonely. The staff are wonderful, but don’t have the time to sit and chat all day with people. I do have the time and a lot of the blokes, and ladies, enjoy a casual chat about anything and everything,” he said.
I reckon I get a lot more enjoyment doing this than the residents. I love talking to them – they have so much wisdom. In a way older people are now the forgotten people.”
As well as casual conversations, Bruce runs a Friday sketch group. While he doesn’t paint, he ensures the class runs and all the equipment is set up. He also fills in as the quizmaster if the regular quiz reader can’t make it. He also supports staff to run the fortnightly Men’s Group, where participants are currently constructing a large Lego replica of the Sydney Opera House.
“The Men’s Group has constructed a railway line and station set up and we are now working on the Sydney Opera House. Each stage is discussed and planned, which is a great project for the men to be involved in,” Bruce said.
When he’s not at Liscombe House Bruce is in his studio working on ceramics using the Raku technique. His work is shown in some galleries and is also exhibited during the Nillumbik Open Art Studios.
Bruce inherited his love of art from his mother and 30 years ago began his pottery. He now has a studio, wheels and a kiln on his property. But this week it’s all about Santa.
“This is my first time as Santa and I like to bring a bit of levity into the lives of people that can sometimes be pretty difficult,” Bruce said.
Caption: Santa with OCAV’s CEO Phillip Wohlers.
CEO Phillip Wohlers has overseen some big changes at OCAV. But their model of personalised care and community building is something that won't change under his 'watch'.