OAM award for Uniting AgeWell volunteer

“It’s been a huge joy to help others,” is the way Ruth Hosking describes the countless number of older people she’s helped over nearly four decades of volunteering.

The Bendigo 89-year-old who has volunteered at Uniting AgeWell since the mid-1980s has been awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for her services to the local community.

Since 1988, the retired nurse has been the volunteer admissions' information officer at Uniting AgeWell Strath-Haven Community in Bendigo. She meets with families and individuals and listens to their questions and concerns, always making sure the answers she gives meet their needs.

And even over the last two years, with Victoria in and out of lockdown during COVID, Ruth has simply carried on her volunteering work at Strath-Haven – chatting to people over zoom and the phone and emailing them important information in fact sheets, which she has developed from a range of resources. Ruth also follows up with calls, as she realises there are always more questions that need to be asked.

Uniting AgeWell is hugely proud of Ruth – and of all our volunteers who are the lifeblood of our organisation, helping out in countless thoughtful ways. From working with residents in the Men’s Shed, to helping out on bus trips, volunteering with the lifestyle team, bringing pets in as therapy, writing older people’s life stories, providing companionship …. the list is endless. And the time they give and the difference they make is deeply appreciated.

So where did Ruth’s interest in aged care start?

“Mum started showing signs of dementia, and as I was looking after her, I grew fascinated by the disease which was becoming rapidly more widespread,” Ruth explains.

So she studied geriatric nursing in 1982. She was appointed Anne Caudle Centre’s Day Hospital’s Charge Nurse – and suddenly found herself being called on to talk to multiple community groups. “Everyone was finding they had a family member with dementia, and I had the learned as well as the hands-on experience to help them. So I did!” she says.

Over the years, Ruth has been tireless in her ongoing dedication to advocating for older people.

  • She presented a paper at the first National Alzheimers’ Association Conference in Perth in 1990 titled “A guide for recording a loved one’s decline” due to their cognitive changes and ability in managing day-to-day tasks.
  • She’s served on the Council on the Ageing Victoria, the Bendigo region’s Positive Ageing Advisory Committee and even made a submission to the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety.
  • She was awarded the Centenary of Federation Medal in 2001 and seven years ago was honoured with the Rotary Club of Bendigo’s Sapphire Pin.
  • And she was named Volunteer of the Year in Victoria for aged care services in 2014-2015.

The great-grandmother lives at home with her husband, and has no intention of slowing down anytime soon.

“My health is excellent, I’m a busy member of Uniting AgeWell, I love knitting and I intend volunteering at Strath-Haven for a long time yet… If I can help people, why not?” she says.

And one day, would either Ruth or her husband consider moving into Strath-Haven Community?

“You bet!” Ruth says. “The staff are lovely, they all care so much. It will almost be like a home away from home for me.”

There are many opportunities to make a difference at Uniting AgeWell through volunteering.

Find out how you can get involved