Spanish soccer team Real Madrid have helped forge a new friendship at Baptistcare’s David Buttfield Centre Residential Care in Gwelup.
Several times a month, Colombian-born volunteer Felipe Angel pops in to say hola to 88-year-old Spanish-born Baptistcare resident and Real Madrid fan Pedro Lopez.
The conversations are always in Spanish of course.
“In Colombia people would not volunteer. They do not have the time. So, when I came to Australia seven years ago and my wife got a volunteering job it sounded like a good thing to do,” Mr Angel said.
“Losing my job during the pandemic was my opportunity to do volunteering work.”
The lockdown meant the new friends met for the first time via Facetime, but now Mr Angel and Mr Lopez catch up in person, chatting about everything from family life to politics and soccer.
Mr Lopez’s wife Paulina, who has Alzheimer’s and is also a Baptistcare David Buttfield Centre resident, often joins her husband for the catch-ups.
“Pedro and Paulina tell me what their lives were like in Spain and I tell them about growing up in Colombia,” Mr Angel said.
“We both love soccer and Pedro is a huge fan of Real Madrid. He tells me about the team 50 years ago and about the dictatorship before 1975. We also talk about our families. He has great-grandchildren and I have a 17-year-old son.”
Mr Angel has a new job but has kept up his visits to Baptistcare David Buttfield Centre, where Mr and Mrs Lopez have lived since May 2020.
“It makes me feel good to go to Baptistcare and chat to Pedro,” Mr Angel said.
“You don’t realise how rewarding it is to volunteer until you do it. I do it because I know it will make Pedro happy.”
Staff at Baptistcare David Buttfield Centre say Mr Lopez has a big smile on his face and a spring in his step when he knows Mr Angel is visiting.
Mr Angel is one of several bilingual volunteers at Baptistcare. Between them, they speak Spanish, French, Mandarin and Cantonese, but more volunteers fluent in a second language are always needed.
Lily Meszaros, Volunteer and Engagement Consultant at Baptistcare, said the aged care provider was currently looking for volunteers who spoke Italian, Macedonian, Dutch or Malay.
“We continue to see increasing cultural diversity in our facilities, which means bilingual volunteers have become more important than ever,” she said.
“Not only do residents enjoy opportunities to chat in their native language, but some revert back to their childhood languages. Our volunteers can really help when communication between the resident and our staff becomes more difficult.”
If you speak a second language and are interested in becoming a Baptistcare volunteer, please visit baptistcare.com.au/volunteering.
Find out more about Baptistcare.