This is a reflective journal written on the basis of experiences within the RSL Narrabean retirement home for the aged and centred on a community engagement fieldwork process. This journal provides information on the happenings within the retirement home, the purpose for field work and the participation of different entities within the environment. As such it incorporates a research into the theory of reflection which puts to use established frameworks for reflective practices. The journal basically draws from the events and experiences from the Community Engagement Fieldwork in addition to providing explanations on how the Fieldwork helped in the realization of personal and professional goals. The transformative nature of the Community Engagement Fieldwork Experience is also explored in the journal which further reflects on the concept of reciprocity.
Setting foot into the retirement home for the first time during my field work constituted mixed emotions with no particular sense of expectations for me. All I knew was that I was going to meet old people and engage in the activities I was directed to engage with them in during the period of time. My focus was on making all this experience a success and fully engage with residents within the low care home in building relationships, playing games, talking to them, engaging in exercises and going for trips. The first day majorly constituted getting to know the residents by name and talking to them. I explained my reasons for visiting and this was taken very positively by most of the residents. During the few hours spent within the Sydney-based home which provides residence to over five hundred aged individuals, I scanned the environment. I visited the various facilities used by the residents and these included the hostels, their dining rooms, the kitchens, the halls and their sanitary areas among other facilities. This I did with the view of familiarizing with their environments and knowing how they perceive it.
As per the description of the home, it is located close to the northern beaches of Sydney and within Narrabeen. Within the home are autonomous living compartments in which over five hundred beds are provided and which institutes a total of eight care homes. The view of the home, which was very much liked by the residents, is the Pacific Ocean and the Narrabean lakes. The resident, while idle spent their time having a view of this features while seated at the lounge. RSL Narrabean Retirement Home is established upon an expansive land area measuring to approximately a hundred acres. On this piece of land, the establishment has instituted cottage homes, villas and apartments. Additionally these apartments are situated in a way to allow for the views of bush lands, the lake and the Pacific Ocean by the residents. Different residents within the institution are provided for diverse accommodation plans with respect to their preferences and capabilities to afford them. The floor plans provided within the home include units as large as three bedroom compartments to those as small as bed sitters.
Further, RSL Narrabean Retirement Home presents to the resident a standard of living in which peace of mind and security is maintained and promoted. Also available within the village are capabilities for enhancing these features. There exist, emergency buttons which are implemented within all the apartments. With these buttons, the residents are able to access emergency service on a twenty four hours basis and this is mainly with regards the need for nurses within the apartments. Also of significance is the existence of licensed bars, restaurants, spa, heated pools, croquet, coffee shops, gyms, and lawn bowls and craft workshops within the compound; facilities which enhance ample access of such cervices for the residents. Even of greater importance is the medical centre in the village which provides for all round medical services for the residents. These residents are also provided with daily trips to the surrounding shopping centre and other planned events. This is made possible b the availability of fleets of buses owned by the institution.
By the end of the first day of the visit, I had gathered a considerable overview of the institutions and thus had an inkling of what I would expect on the consequent visits within the institutions. The following days included sessions of active participations with the residents on a number of events. First of all, I joined them within the entrainment whole where I spoke to most of them both at individual levels and in group levels. At the same time, I engaged in a lot of games with them as they passed time before the day went away.
According to the conversation I held with most of the residents, the attitude they had towards their environment was quite positive. They liked the structure of the compound, the arrangement of the variety of facilities together with their compartments and the scenery which the apartment's provided for them. The residents were also pleased of the fact that great care was provided for them for instance, through the availability of all round and all day and night medical services and practitioners within the institution. The freedom of movement and the facilities for transport instituted within the establishment, according to them was also a plus for the organization. They were glad that, irrespective of being in a home, they were able to access facilities and engage in activities that they would even if they were still in their own residential areas.
The games which were available for the residents were of a wide range although they did not consider it as such. Among the games in which I engaged with the residents included poker, crossword, puzzles etc. As per my assessment, the residents enjoyed engaging in t he games and spent most of their time playing and moving from one game to the other. However, they expressed dissatisfaction with the lack of enough varieties of games within the institution. Generally, they preferred engaging in games of different kinds within the institutions over doing other activities like talking to one another. As a matter of fact, the instances in which the residents talked to each other sere mainly during the times I had engaged them in group discussions. Otherwise, they would all go to the lounge, after getting bored with the games, and idle staring at each other and the sceneries. It is however these idle moments that I engaged with most of them in discussions and thus managed to form bonds. This is in addition to the moment in which we engaged in games. Another concern expressed by the residents were over the foods they were provided. They claimed that they were provided with foods that were tasteless in addition to being a little tough and thus hard to chew.
As a matter of fact, this field work helped me realize a number of things with reference to my professional and personal goals. At the professional level, the need for clearly defining my goals was revealed. This, I came to know was indispensable in the achievement of success within the various areas of my profession. I came to learn that, defining my goals appropriately was of importance considering the fact that it offered motivation for the achievement of the goal. Although my expectations were considerably vague with respect to the experience I would have at the retirement home, I had in place various goals which provide me with guidelines on how to go about the events and the experiences I had with the residents within the home.
One of the areas where I wish to achieve success was in the creation of relationships with the residents from the home during the period I was undertaking my field work. Knowing this, I had to lay down strategies which were to be effective in the accomplishment of the set objectives. Knowing what I wanted to achieve and where I wanted to be relationship wise enabled me instigate conversations with these residents. This provided room for them to open their hearts to me, telling me of the stories they wished so much to be heard. In empathizing with them and showing interest in their stories, the residents were able to build trusts with me and this helped in the formation of strong bonds with them. At a personal level, the experience helped me realize the in-depth need for association among individuals. All individuals need relationships at different levels. This is because different relationships fulfil different needs. The aged for instance have the need for people who can listen to them and this had made my focus to institute among other thing, listening and especially to the different levels of individuals within the society.
Between the period I first set foot on the establishment and the time my fieldwork was complete, I could see a wide range of differences from within the residents and especially among those I had the chance to talk with at very deep and personal levels. The community engagement program was transformative although…