23 October 2017   

5 min read
Meet the team – Michelle Liebrandt, Lifestyle & Wellbeing Coordinator
Q: How long have you been at Mernda Retirement Village?
A: I started at Mernda two years ago.

Q: What attracted you to becoming a Lifestyle & Wellbeing Coordinator?
A: The role incorporated skills I have studied therefore using my qualifications but best of all my life experiences as well as the desire to work with and care for the older generation.

Q: What were you doing before becoming a Lifestyle & Wellbeing Coordinator?
A: I was in nursing and age care. I also have a background in event management, which becomes handy when we have a big open day events at the village.

Q: What do your daily activities involve?
A: My job is all about the residents, making their life in our village more enjoyable.
There’s lots of planning, follow ups, problem solving, admin and liaising with residents on all kinds of matters and concerns. I also manage or observe daily activities and interactions, as well as encouraging resident participation.

Q: What is your favourite activity?
A: Mmm… Hard one I love them all but the ones that bring many residents together having fun, staying active, being healthy are the exercise activities like croquet, water exercise and dancing.

Q: We heard you helped start the residents’ croquet group. How did that happen?
A: After I set up and started the fun exercise group doing cardiovascular movements, a few of the ladies mentioned they found it a little challenging and hard to keep up and commit to the program.
So we discussed starting a croquet group to accommodate them, enabling them to still participate in an activity physically and socially but at a level more suitable. 
I put out an expression of interest for croquet and got 20 responses - the rest is history as they say……

Q: For the uninitiated, how do you actually play croquet?
A: Croquet is a quintessential English game played outdoors on grass with many rules (we simplified ours to four!). In the simplest form it involves hitting balls across the lawn through hoops using a wooden mallet. You play as an individual or in teams, with the object to get from the first to last peg hitting your ball in turn through the hoops numerically. The individual or team who finishes first wins.

Q: Do you join in the social activities? If so, which is your favourite?
A: I try to participate in some way in all activities where possible. It creates a great bonding partnership, support and rapport between residents and myself. When I started the exercise group I actually led it for several months, then let the residents take over -  they are forever asking when I am coming to a class!!!! 
I aim to always pop in, to at least say hi to residents or whatever activity is happening in the Clubhouse. I am often asked to join in, so every now and then I will have tea or play croquet or do a Zumba class.

Q: How important is it for to residents stay active?
A: It is extremely important for residents to stay active, physically, mentally, emotionally, cognitively and socially. This promotes health and wellbeing benefits towards an independent happy life and quality lifestyle. Being active and committing to a health program encourages a positive attitude, self-help, preventative measures towards illness and age-related health concerns. Interacting on any level brings together a sense of community, friendships, support and a holistic spirit.

Q: How would our residents describe you?
A: Helpful, friendly, a problem solver, trustworthy, a listening ear, a supporter and a chatterbox!

Q: What’s the best thing about Mernda Retirement Village? 
A: The amazing village and surrounds, the look and feel of the eco-friendly green star rated clubhouse and villas. The clubhouse layout accommodates many activities and events as it is an adaptable space. 
The development and growth of the village brings a vast array of residents from all walks of life, many diverse characters and skill sets. Definitely young at heart with an average age of 73,(which we know is the new 60’s!). I describe our village as ‘young and trendy ’ with opportunities and choices for a great lifestyle. 
Location-wise, it’s walking distance to a small shopping and services precinct, parks, a short drive to larger shopping centres, medical facilities, transport. With growth within the local area like Mernda Junction, Mernda Rail, Mernda Town Centre, there is more excitement to come, more retail therapy for some and convenience for others.

Q: Any advice for someone thinking about moving into a retirement village? 
A: I hear too often “We should have done this move sooner”. I always tell our residents, “You can do what you wish, with whom you wish, for as long as you wish”. 
Moving into a retirement village is really about mind set, timing and circumstance. It is definitely a lifestyle change to a new phase of life with great lifestyle possibilities. It may free up the burdens, worries of many families and health concerns giving peace of mind. 
Living in a retirement village enables residents to engage more than they would have, especially if single, as things are on their door step, the choices are theirs to take up. They will tend to try new things they would not ordinarily, because they have the freedom to choose. They feel more secure having like-minded people close by to call on for support. 
Being active they are able to lock up and go north in the caravan knowing their home is safe and secure in the village. 
Those who have already lost or lose a loved one are well supported and cared for by other residents and staff. I have witnessed residents who have sadly lost their partner, but are now blossoming and slowly moving forward with the support of those around them. 
Everyone has their lives to live, so why not in retirement village where they’ll get so much support from residents and staff? Then they can focus on living a healthy, fun, secure and fulfilled life!