Ruth Hosking is a great example of someone we all wish we were more like.
Selfless to a fault and reluctant to draw praise or accolades, the 89-year-old has been a dedicated volunteer for more than 60 years.
Currently a volunteer at COTA Victoria, she has just been awarded an Order of Australia (OAM) for her services to Bendigo.
Humbled, yet delighted, Ruth is thrilled that so many people have reached out to her to congratulate her on receiving this significant accolade.
For Ruth, the love of volunteering runs deep, and it is her commitment to help people to help themselves, which drives her to continue with her work.
“At COTA Victoria, I am part of the education peer support group, as well as supporting the Aged Care Navigator Program and participating in panel discussions”, she says.
Established in 2019, the COTA Victoria Aged Care Navigator Program, currently in a trial phase until December 2022, provides free and independent advice to Victorians about what aged care service, be it residential or home care, best suits their needs.
“Every conversation I have with an older person or a member of their family, I am striving to give them clarity in often emotional and complex times,” Hosking says.
“I take the time to craft fact sheets and give them out to people who have come to hear me speak.
“This allows them to digest the myriad of details and it gives them an opportunity to think about the process and call me again to fill in the gaps.”
And despite the pandemic, Ruth continues to do her valuable work online, creating ways to connect to the people who need her assistance.
“What I also love about volunteering is the satisfaction of playing a small role in improving the quality of life for a loved one,” she says.
“I am determined to be able to help them with their journey and their family’s journey.
“With areas such as aged care, which is often complex and overwhelming, I want to give them the information they need so they can gain the confidence to make informed decision and improve the situation they are currently in – as every situation is different.
“It is a very emotional time, so it is so important to know that we are here to help.” Ruth adds.
Having spent 30 years as a hospital nurse, the transition to volunteering was quite seamless for Ruth.
“I loved taking care of patients, so those skills have been the foundation to my volunteer work today,” she says.
Married to Bill for 65 years, with two children, five grandchildren and two great grandchildren, Ruth certainly has a lot on her plate, but she wouldn’t have it any other way.
She has a saying about volunteering which continues to resonate with her – “I only walk this way once. Therefore, if there is any help I can give, let me do it now. For I will not walk this way again.”
According to Karen Ivanka, team leader at Aged Care Navigators, Ruth is a highly respected and valued member of the peer education team.
“Ruth is relentless in her pursuit to help others – it is simply her passion,” Ivanka says.
“Ruth is the type of person who will jump on any project. She is a fantastic person who is committed in servicing Bendigo and the community.
“She certainly deserves this award.”