Faces of Baptcare | Meet Colleen and Nigel

Meet Colleen and Nigel Linnell, partners in life - and in the workplace - at our Hedley Sutton residential aged care community. Colleen works part-time in reception and Nigel is a volunteer. They are both dedicated to making a positive difference in the lives of our residents, families and staff.

Colleen and Nigel Hedley Sutton Community

Read on to learn more about how Colleen and Nigel came to work and volunteer at Baptcare, and why they love being a part of our Hedley Sutton community.

Meet Colleen

How long have you been working at Baptcare? Have you always worked in frontline customer service and administration?

I’ve worked at Baptcare for 14 years. I’ve always worked on the front desk in a customer service role.

Tell us about a typical day at work – if there is one?

Every day is different – I could be dealing with admissions, discharges, meet and greeting, invoices and ordering. It can be very busy – sometimes even a bit frantic! But there’s a rhythm you get used to – it keeps me on my toes.

The type of demand we’re seeing for aged care services has changed over time. People are coming into aged care with more complex needs now – perhaps they’ve stayed at home for longer and are only entering care when they can no longer reasonably be looked after at home.

We offer respite care at Hedley Sutton now, which was something we didn’t offer when I first started working here.  I’m very lucky to be job sharing with Vanessa Hall. I work two days a week and Vanessa works three days. The flexibility is good and works well for us both. We each provide the other with a detailed handover with comprehensive notes at the end of our shifts to make sure that the Hedley front desk operates efficiently.

Growing up, what job did you want to do?

I’ve been sewing since the age of five – my mother was a dressmaker.  I always wanted to do fashion design but in Hobart, where I lived at the time, there weren’t the opportunities to study fashion back then, so I studied shorthand and typing instead and moved into reception/secretarial work. To this day I still take the Minutes of the staff meetings using Pitmans Shorthand.

I still sew at home and modify clothes that I buy off the rack.  I’m always busy with my sewing machine and have the same Bernina machine that I bought a year after we married!

What are some of the most important qualities for someone working as a receptionist in an aged care community?

You really need to enjoy the job and be comfortable with the pace – it can get extremely busy at times. Vanessa and I have each other’s backs when the pressure is on. You’ve got to appreciate that the front reception desk works for the nursing staff, Office Manager and residents.

Why do you love working at Baptcare?

I felt instantly comfortable when I started working here 14 years ago. I love the people and the job – it just feels like family here. The three Directors of Nursing I’ve worked with over my time here at Hedley have been lovely to work for and I get along really well with our Office Manager too. They’ve all been wonderful, confident and competent people to work with.

Meet Nigel

What inspired you to become a volunteer at Hedley Sutton?

I’d previously volunteered for the RSL and then Colleen nominated me for volunteering at Baptcare.

I took over the footy tipping activity from another volunteer who had left the job suddenly with an unexpected illness. It was close to the end of the footy season, and I had to quickly come to terms with another person’s record system that I knew nothing about! But with a bit of hard work and determination, I was able to work through things and finish up that first season.

Prior to volunteering, I’d worked in the Finance/Banking industry and finished my career in financial planning, investment portfolios and superannuation.  I’m also ex-Army, having completed National Service and served in Vietnam in the late 1960s. I retired at the age of 65 and there was a bit of role reversal at home – I became the domestic manager at home (instead of Colleen) and decided to start volunteering a few days a week.

What are some of the volunteer activities you participate in?

I run the footy tipping program during the season, volunteering for a couple of days a week, just to catch all the residents and staff who want to participate. It’s a fun topic to talk about with everyone and creates conversation. We have a lovely presentation after the finals – there’s prizes for first, second and third position. Everyone has a lot of fun – and it’s great interaction and conversation for the residents. Most people like talking about footy!

What do you think are the most important qualities for a volunteer in aged care?

Empathy is important.  As a volunteer, you must understand that our residents want to be listened to, recognised and understood. They have amazing back stories to tell about their rich and varied lives. It’s important to take the time to learn more about them. Don’t rush things and don’t be brash – listen to them on their level. Being patient is key – just take the time to sit down and have a chat with them and a cup of tea.

What do you do in your spare time?

I do quite a bit of home maintenance. We still live in a large home and there is lots to do.   I also enjoy going to the gym three days a week.  Previously, I was Vice President of the Waverley RSL, and I still have some strong ties there. Colleen and I like to travel a fair bit as well. We’ve been overseas once every two years since 1997, on average. Our last trip was to the UK and Italy. We love to walk everywhere – some days we’d walk up to 15 kilometres. We also like to get away to the Sunshine Coast about 2-3 times a year.

Thank you Colleen and Nigel for your dedication to our Hedley Sutton community. We truly appreciate everything you do to make Hedley such a warm and welcoming place for our residents, their families and staff.

If you’re interested to know more about working or volunteering at Baptcare, click here for more information on how to join us and share your passion and commitment to supporting people in need.