Soldiers of the 1st Brigade are used to adapting to new environments.
Recent efforts, involving more than 160 personnel across five states and territories, have displayed the flexibility of Top End soldiers providing support to the ADF’s contribution to aged-care assistance, as part of Operation COVID-19 Assist.
For soldiers of the 1st Combat Signal Regiment, their time at the Pearl Retirement Village in Darwin was marked with laughs, while learning new skills and making some firm friends.
Corporal Mark Bennett was one of the soldiers who worked alongside the home’s residents.
“It’s was quite a challenge for our guys dealing with the residents. Some of the younger ones don’t have much experience talking with people in this kind of environment,” Corporal Bennett said.
“But once we all got used to each other being there, it got a lot better.
“The staff have been friendly and helpful. We’ve worked well together getting the jobs done that needed to be done.”
Pearl Retirement Village manager Jan Marlborough said the ADF support provided much-needed relief.
“It’s been a fantastic opportunity to have the ADF here helping with that one-on-one chatting, walking, cleaning bird cages, and all those types of little things which allowed our staff to concentrate more on the care,” she said.
Ms Marlborough said it was the perfect opportunity for the troops to show off their bed-making skills.
“Their hospital corners were perfect, and I’m told that on the first day they were too perfect and nobody was able to get into bed – they were tucking too hard!”
Corporal Bennett said his team carried out their duties with respect and humility, to make the residents’ lives a little bit easier.
“Because we were wearing the full PPE to start with, many of the residents didn’t appreciate that we were in the Army because they couldn’t see our uniforms; they couldn’t see our patches,” Corporal Bennett said.
“So, when we were finally able to take the PPE off, they were like, ‘Oh wow, the Army’s here’, and they were quite thrilled when they realised that.”