Betty, one of our Aged Care clients from Mosman, celebrated an impressive milestone recently with 14 of her friends and family – her 105th birthday!
“It was a lovely day. All my nieces and nephews were there and I’m very proud of every one of them,” Betty reflects.
Christina, one of Betty’s home support workers who was there when Betty hit triple digits, also took part in the 105th birthday celebrations, helping her write personalised thank you notes to each card she received on the day.
Staying independent and connected
Officially in Betty’s care plan, Christina’s role is to get Betty’s dinner ready each evening, do her life admin and support her with household tasks so that she can remain living independently in the Mosman unit that she loves.
But Christina’s role in Betty’s life – and Betty’s in Christina’s – extends well beyond the ticking of boxes. First having bonded over their combined interest in politics, these ladies have built up a lasting connection over the years. They both say they look forward to each visit to share stories of their days, “gossip” and knit bears together, which Betty then donates to children in a local hospital.
“Betty will say, ‘That’s the last bear I’m making!’ and I will say, ‘No, it’s not!’,” Christina laughs as she recounts how she encourages Betty to keep up her knitting. “I like to push her to keep going. You know, we’re here to keep people like Betty in their homes. We always encourage them to do as much for themselves as they can because if you don't use it, you will lose it,” she says.
To add to this, Christina says: “It’s about bringing out the best I can in every person that I go to and the most that I can bring out of them, in that time that I'm with them.”
And you only need to glance at the number of hand-knitted bears in Betty’s apartment to know that Christina does exactly that.
When client assistance is family assistance
While the older person receiving the services is the focus and priority, in many instances these services become a source of comfort and support for their extended family, too. Vicki, Betty’s niece, can vouch for this.
“As a family, we just feel so confident that The Benevolent Society team have everything covered. They always contact me. They always ask what Betty needs and what she requires,” she explains.
Knowing that Betty has a team on hand to fill out forms for her, help her run her house and take care of her daily errands, when Vicki visits her aunt, they are able to simply focus on connecting and spending quality time together. Her time away from Betty is also enriched by how these services put her mind at ease.
“We feel that we can go away any time because we know she's so well taken care of, and they are so easy to contact and they're a really wonderful team,” she says.
Betty has always been incredibly sharp and still retains an active memory at 105 years old, which she attributes to doing her weekly crosswords. Independence has also always been one of Betty’s highest values – even today she has created her own systems to dress and shower without aid, and she’ll happily show our staff how to cook her eggs the way she likes them! But Betty believes she could not enjoy the independence she does currently without the support and encouragement from her wonderful Benevolent Society care team.
“They’ve kept me going I guess, to put it bluntly,” Betty says.
On Sunday 7th August, it is Aged Care Employee Day – an initiative of the Aged & Community Care Providers Association (ACCPA). This is an annual celebration supporting and honouring Australia’s residential, home and community aged care worker.
The theme is #ThanksforCaring which is hugely appropriate as it recognises every team member involved in caring for older Australians receiving home care or residential care services.
This includes nurses and care workers, allied health professionals, hospitality teams, drivers, cleaners, volunteers, lifestyle officers, administration staff, and many, many others.
To find out more about how The Benevolent Society can help you, please call our Support Centre on 1800 236 762 or see our Services & Programs page.