Be Your Best: taking time to listen

Sunday, May 19, 2024 be your best
Be Your Best: taking time to listen
Martin Galvin says volunteering makes him feel a "bit more whole".

Martin Galvin likes to think of volunteering as “opening up a story book”.

He takes time to look at patients and consider them the storyteller, rather than a person in a hospital bed.

“I say to myself, just listen. Listen and ask questions,” he said.

Honing those people skills began during Martin’s career as a district nurse in Melbourne more than a decade ago.

“It was quite amazing really, you’d get to go into people’s homes and get to talk to them, ask them questions,” he said.

“I met people in the housing commissions, and I’ve met QCs.

“You see people in their lives and their circumstances.”

Martin then spent 16 years working as a psychiatry nurse before i turning  65 and deciding to move into retirement.

But he didn’t want to lose the connections to others and the people skills.

 “I’m a bit of a restless person, I like activity,” he said.

“From my point of view, you might lose a bit of your skills as you go through retirement, but volunteering allows you to keep them up.

“Retirement can be a bit self-indulgent in some senses, and you don’t have that people contact that I used to have a lot of.”

Martin now volunteers for a few hours in Bendigo Health’s Emergency Department (ED), where he gets to do just that, keep connections going.

He is able to speak to patients and make a difference in any way he can.

“If you’re at a party and no one talks to you, you feel a bit crap. So if someone comes up to you, starts talking and shows they’re interested in you, you feel better. I think that helps,” he said.

“And some people just want a phone charger and that would make a big difference to them.

“There’s such an age range of patients too. I often hear a child crying and I’ll go to see if their parents want a coffee, it’s a small thing but it could help.”

Martin said it’s not just the patients that benefit from volunteering.

“I feel so much better, like I’ve done something and actually contributed to the world and not just taken,” he said.

“It’s a holistic thing, I feel a bit more whole.”

Learn more about Martin’s life in story he submitted to the Age:

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