Gail Bolas commenced work at Ashwood in May 1970.
She started work as an AIN (Assistant in Nursing) based in Ashwood and worked her way up to the Acting Leisure Lifestyle Coordinator.
“I remember my first day like it was only yesterday,” Gail told us. On her first day she was early to work, about 5.30am, and as she was approaching the front door saw a lady wearing a hat and coat, holding a tin of cat food calling out for a cat.
Gail thought the lady needed her help and encouraged her to come inside and seated her in the lounge area. All the while the lady kept telling Gail she hadn’t time to sit as she had to cook the breakfast for everyone. Gail thought she was confused and possibly thinking back to her days caring for her family at home. Gail found the sister in charge and when she came into the lounge she said “that’s the COOK!” What a great start.
Gail is very passionate and relates personally to each resident she comes across. She is often heard before she is seen due to her whistling, greetings and her strong English accent.
She speaks affectionately of her experience as a Recreational Activities Officer such as one occasion when she took Kit, a 100 year old resident, to Bondi Beach. Kit had been a Lifeguard at Bondi and had said how she would like to paddle and swim one more time in Bondi. A swimsuit was bought, and Kit’s dream came true.
Another memorable occasion was when Gail worked nights at Ashwood and assisted Mrs Hawkins into bed each evening. Gail would place a cushion on the floor and help Mrs Hawkins to kneel beside her bed and say her prayers every evening before she slept.
During her (rather lengthy) prayers, Mrs Hawkins would say thank you to everyone in her family and to the staff for all their care, love and support. Gail would then help her into bed.
One evening at age 94, Mrs Hawkins had finished saying her prayers but this time she could not get off the floor. “My knees have gone,” she said.
After having another nurse help Gail put Mrs Hawkins into bed, Mrs Hawkins said “Now I will have to say my prayers in bed… I have never done that before.”
Mrs Hawkins passed away at the age of 98. Her daughter,
Clarice, now 86, lives at Crawford Lodge, also saying her prayers every night before bed to thank everyone.
After starting as an AIN, Gail enrolled in educational courses to learn about the job ahead and fell in love with her new career in Aged Care. She still finds it very rewarding.
“My passion has been, being part of someone’s life and I can say I hope I have made a difference. I have met so many wonderful residents and families who have helped with my journey of care.”