Having just finished high school, the girls were looking for a part-time job to support themselves at university, with Shannon taking on a law arts degree at UWA while Emily attended Curtin studying chemical engineering.
They found work easily at nearby aged care facility Bethanie Joondanna, and Shannon said that while initially it was just a job, it turned into something much more.
‘Initially it was just something to make some money over the Christmas holidays. We were going overseas for six months and then coming back and heading to uni,’ Shannon said.
‘It became so much more than that though, it’s like working with family. We spent Christmas Day there and we became really attached to the residents.
‘Our grandparents are no longer with us and for our 21st birthday the residents made all the decorations, and they genuinely became like our grandparents.
‘It doesn’t feel like work, it’s not a mundane uni job. I can leave work feeling like I’ve made a real difference.’
Now the girls want to give something back to aged care residents, and they are holding a Bring It To The Table fondue dinner party for their 22nd birthday.
Originally named Dine for Dementia and trialled solely in WA last year, the event aims to support the nearly 30,000 people in WA living with dementia and their families and carers.
‘The way it works is that we have a dinner party, and your guest pays what they normally would for a night out, and then we pass that on to Alzheimer’s Australia WA,’ Emily said.
‘I think we have more awareness about the elderly, dementia and Alzheimer’s than a lot of our peers.
‘My life motto over the last five years has been if I can go and make my friends visit their grandparents, that means enough to me and to give people more awareness about the struggles that some families go through.
‘It’s not even grandparents sometimes, it’s people’s parents and that’s the hardest thing. I’ve worked with people in their 50s who have dementia and Alzheimer’s and they’re the same age as my parents.’