Pulling up at the Atitjere Aged Care Centre, the CEO is greeted by Veronica, who was just leaving. Veronica Edwards is the Aged Care Coordinator in Atitjere, 200 kilometres north-east of Alice Springs. She has been with the Council for only four months, but in that time has developed some good relationships.

The CEO jumps in the car with Veronica, along with a client who comes for the ride, and they drive over to another client’s house to bring him back to the centre. Danny Reiff has featured in the CD News before, with his drawings and paintings.
On the way Veronica expressed the need for a four wheel drive bus for the centre, so that clients can go on trips to Outstations and other places.
“When we do pick-ups or drop-offs to Number 5 Outstation sometimes clients want to come along for the ride. Often it is one of the few times to get out of the community,” said Veronica.

Back at the centre, Danny settled in, and Leslie was introduced to the clients and staff. Then it was time to get his hands dirty (albeit with gloves on – part of the strict PPE policy Aged Care has). Lunch was being made in the kitchen by Maria Ross, one of three staff that work at the centre. She used to work for Children’s Ground, teaching kids culture at the Outstations. She is also an artist, with some of her photos featured in the Outback Way Outdoor Art Gallery along the Plenty Highway.

Photo above: Leslie Manda, Veronica Edwards and Maria Ross.

Maria Ross serving up lunch.Maria Ross serving up lunch.

Leslie started with the dishes, something that always needs to be done. After that, the meal was almost ready, and Leslie added the finishing touch by making the white sauce while Maria served up the vegetables and meat. The meals are delivered to the clients’ houses, so Leslie jumped back in the car with Veronica. The clients aren‘t always home, and Veronica stressed that it was important that the clients are handed the food directly.

Leslie washing the dishes.Leslie washing the dishes.

Veronica went on to explain the relationship they have with the store. By law, the store has to supply a certain percentage of fruit and vegetables, and often it is not all sold.
“We ask the shop to let us know when they expect to have surplus, and we buy it at a discount,” she said, “so the community store and Aged Care benefit.”

At the moment they are down one staff member, one having recently resigned. Veronica noted that it would be ideal to have five or six casuals, as often workers have other commitments at certain times.
“With a fluid work arrangement, we would have more chance of having the workers we need at different times of the year”, she said.
Another suggestion she made was to share staff with the Youth team, as they usually work from 3pm onwards, and Aged Care need them at lunch time.

Back at the Council office Leslie met up with Warren Kenney, Regional Manager, Council Services Delivery – East. He talked about how quickly the grass is growing after all the rain.
“We have to mow it every two weeks, for us that’s unheard of,” he explained.

Jason Clements from the Works team and Dennis Braun, Community Services Coordinator, were whipper snipping the ever growing grass.

 Jason Clements on the whipper snipper.Jason Clements on the whipper snipper.

Warren adds that after prolonged periods of rain more potholes are created in the bitumen roads. That’s where pothole expert Darby Rankine from the Works team comes in. And CEO Leslie Manda. It was time for him to roll his sleeves up again so they headed to an intersection of road with a large pothole in the corner.
Darby cleaned up the hole with a shovel, then Leslie used the blower to finish the job. Then it was pouring in the asphalt, leveling it and tamping it down. Once finished, Darby cast his expert eye over it, and gave it a little extra tamping. He was satisfied.

Darby cleaning out the pothole.Darby cleaning out the pothole.          Leslie blowing out the pothole.Leslie blowing out the pothole.

Filling the hole with asphalt.Filling the hole with asphalt.         Levelling the asphalt.Levelling the asphalt.

Tamping down the asphalt.Tamping down the asphalt.       Leslie Manda, Darby Rankine and Warren Kenney.Leslie Manda, Darby Rankine and Warren Kenney.

It’s a hot day, and regular breaks needed. By the time the pothole is repaired, Leslie’s steel capped shoes are sticking to the bitumen.

On the way out of the community, Leslie stopped to have a look at Maria Ross’s artworks on the Outback Way Outdoor Gallery.

Artwork by Maria Ross, from the Outback Way Outdoor gallery on the Plenty Highway.Artwork by Maria Ross, from the Outback Way Outdoor gallery on the Plenty Highway.