Buck sings his final goodbye to residents
IT WAS an emotional day at Whiddon Grafton as James "Buck" Donald sang his final song to the residents who have enjoyed his company and musical performances over the past few years.
Since 2008, Buck has visited residents in six homes in the Clarence with the New School of Arts Neighbourhood House. But now he is moving to Agnes Water in Queensland.
"The response you get is unbelievable," Mr Buck said. "I've learnt over 250 songs for the nursing homes, songs I'd never heard of.
'They make me feel really welcome all the time."
Buck said what he did was like music therapy.
"Some people in some nursing homes haven't shown any response in years and you come up and sing a song that clicks with them and you see them moving their mouth or moving their foot in time and they seem really happy," he said.
Buck said he had worked hard over the years to remember every person in the nursing homes.
"They like that personal feeling, and when you go and actually sing that song to them and you can see them reminiscing, going back 50, 60 years it's incredible," he said.
Over the years, he developed relationships with residents at Grafton Aged Care, Dougherty Villa, Whiddon Grafton, St Francis, St Catherine's and Rathgar Lodge.
"Over at South Grafton there was a really nice old chap who I've been visiting for seven years. He can't walk, he's only got the use of one arm, he can't smell or taste and all he can say is 'aye' and a few swear words," he said.
"On Tuesday he actually called me by my first name for the first time in seven years."
Whiddon Grafton director of care Sandra Osborne said losing Buck would be a huge loss for all the nursing homes he visits.
"He's going to leave a huge hole and I don't think we'll be able to replace him, but the clients just love Buck coming," Ms Osborne said.
"The relationship he forms with the clients, he's one on one with them. Whether they've got dementia or they haven't, he's able to communicate with them in some way, whether it's through his music or his one on one time with them."
To volunteer with the New School of Arts Neighbourhood House, contact Simone McPherson on 6640 3811.