Jeanette retires after 20 year with Cooinda

By Simon Ruppert

Staff and residents at Cooinda Aged Care threw a special retirement celebration for long-time staff member Jeanette Harris on Thursday.

Jeanette has been a popular figure among residents for more than 20 years, holding a variety of roles in her time.

She said when she started volunteering all those years ago she had no idea she would notch up more than two decades at the facility.

“It wasn't my plan when I started,” Ms Harris said.

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“I used to go in and volunteer to help out after a friend of mine, who had been appointed as one of the managers there, suggested the idea.

“I have an elderly mother in Benalla, so I had been travelling down from Wangaratta quite regularly.

“And I figured if I was coming into Benalla regularly I may as well look for some work.

“I had been volunteering for about two years when I took up a full-time position.

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“I was a PTA (physiotherapy assistant), so I worked on the floor, initially just at weekends.

“Once they extended the facility I moved onto reception before moving into managerial roles.”

Ms Harris would manage areas such as respite and mental health before taking up a role managing Cooinda in the Home.

“That program has been supporting people out in the community to stay them in their own home for a lot longer,” she said.

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“It is a relatively new initiative that is making good ground at the moment.”

Jeanette said it was difficult to pinpoint one moment that stood out as a highlight from her time at Cooinda.

“I think the real highlight is just seeing how Cooinda has evolved from what it was when I started,” she said.

“We only had about 25 residents back then, so it has changed a lot.

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“But in general it is just a great place to work. We’ve had lots of good times. The residents are great and the leadership team is amazing.

“They always put their staff first. The culture there is wonderful to be involved in and be a part of.

“I will miss all the fun times. For example we put on skits with staff and residents at Christmas which everyone enjoys.

“And it shows how fun it is to work there and how happy the residents are.”

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Cooinda put a retirement celebration on for Jeanette on Thursday, and despite being slightly different than one of their normal celebration, thanks to coronavirus restrictions Jeanette, said it was a nice send off.

“It was a bit different but it was lovely,” she said.

“We had a function in the courtyard and people I've worked with for a long time were able to come and I was able to see some of the residents.

“Everyone at Cooinda is lovely, You couldn't ask for a better place to work. It's been amazing.”

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