We share Mary's beautiful story today, 15 June 2017, on World Elder Abuse Day, as a reminder and praise of our service and care to our elderly. Thank you to those of you who dedicate your lives to the support of the elderly, and the positive difference you make to the life of others.
World Elder Abuse Day is an opportunity for us all to reflect and to promote awareness of elder abuse in the community and what we can all do to stop it – both as individuals and as a community. ACIA CEO Luke Westenberg says, “WEAAD is an opportunity to make the community aware that many older people experience mistreatment from people close to them, often their family members (‘elder abuse’).“
Elder abuse is any act which causes harm to an older person and is carried out by someone they know and trust, such as a family member or friend. The abuse may be physical, social, financial, psychological or sexual and can include mistreatment and neglect.
ACIA support all community activity which raises awareness to help stop all forms of elder abuse.
ACIA Board Member, Dr Pooja Newman who is the Clinical Director for Ananda Aged Care, shared today, "We see the older person as the keeper of history, the privileged to have memories of the past and are excited about the prospect of reminiscence with a meaningful account to make yesteryear shine brightly. One can only move forwards with a grounded comprehension of the past for a steady foundation of the future."
Here is Mary's story.
Mary is an aged care resident living within an Estia Health facility.
My life inside an aged-care home: what it’s really like from my personal experience
I am 92 years of age and have been a resident of Estia Health since October 2015.
This followed 3 and half years, with my late husband, as resident of this facility.
I believe during my experience I am very knowledgeable of matters in relation to aged care. So I offer my thoughts in the hope they may be of some assistance to others.
I am aware that there have been damming reports in the media regarding poor treatment of residents in aged-care facilities, and I feel strongly that this should never be allowed to happen. However, I hope that there are many other facilities that are as caring, secure and homely as mine.
Entering aged care has an enormous impact on a person - being placed into the hands of people, who are not your immediate family and are complete strangers. I have the experience to talk about both sides of the situation, as the family member placing a loved one, and as the resident herself.
Firstly and unfortunately, when my husband’s needs took a severe change in direction, I was not prepared for the decision that unavoidably was taken out of our control. With no plans for a future that involved aged care facilities, I was forced into a situation, where my beloved husband required care that I was no longer able to provide for him myself. A daunting and emotionally draining experience to say the least. However, it did encourage and enable me to be prepared for when I had to make the same decision for myself.
I cannot express the importance of being prepared and learning everything about what is involved with transitioning into aged care, including, the type of care being offered, the environment, privacy and the financial aspects.
I entered this aged-care facility after having some health episodes in my own home, which in turn meant some late night journeys via ambulance to the hospital. I reassessed my situation and how it was impacting on my children and their families.
“I didn’t wish to burden them as they had their own lives to lead”.
In my earlier years, I took care of my own mother for 19 years, as aged care facilities like this one where not available to us. This weighed heavily on my decision to enter aged care, because I did not want my children to give up living a life they deserved.
The facility I chose for myself was easy, as my husband had resided here previously. Whilst visiting every day, I was able to see the care he received - something which myself and my children were unable to provide. My children provided me the opportunity to see other facilities, but my decision was based on how comfortable I felt about where he was going to live and how friendly and helpful the staff were.
When it was my turn to transition into a life in an aged care facility, I was well cared for from the beginning by a team of staff which covered all aspects of my life, making it somewhat easier.
My previous knowledge of visiting everyday allowed me to understand the routines and systems in place, which made it relatively easy to adjust. The worries were now lifted of my shoulders as I knew, I had 24 hour good care.
This facility has an active team of therapists who conduct activities including table games, floor games, a men’s club, a knitting club, a movie club, and craft classes, exercises and physio, word games, quizzes, bingo and cultural activities. Regular entertainers provide different types of music. Weekly bus trips for various groups are arranged for site seeing, hotel lunches, cultural clubs, shopping and day excursions. Anglican, Uniting Church services are held regularly. Catholic pastoral care provided weekly as well as many volunteers providing friendship and emotional support.
For myself, always having a creative flair, the staff in the facility have always encouraged and even strengthened my independence. Just this year I found I had a new talent, I never knew I had - or ever imagined. This was sketching and using acrylic paints to produce, I believe, pieces of art. Staff supported my newfound talent, providing me tools and equipment to pursue this new gift of mine, which has given me such a new lease on life to the point I have am proud to say, I am obsessed with it.
It has to be remembered that aged-care facilities are not hospitals, but steps are taken to manage the health care of each resident and, in the case of a fall or an accident, there is a team of health professionals watching over me and, if necessary, an ambulance is called. Getting used to the idea that there were many other people that might be sharing my personal space, was a little bit strange at first. I was worried about my privacy. However, this is also something that you get used to. The staff are always polite and being respectful of my privacy, and I always have the opportunity to retreat into the comfort of my room when I feel like it.
Estia’s nursing staff include clinical nurse managers, registered nurses (one or more of whom is always on duty), enrolled nurses and trainee nurses.
In reviewing my 19 months at this facility, I really appreciate the care I have been given. I have learnt the need for acceptance, tolerance, and that things will not always be to my liking. That I am living with people of different nationalities and degrees of cognitive ability, but above all, I am grateful that at this stage of my life, I am surrounded by a large number of caring, loving, and tolerant group of people. And as I am facing my final challenge in life, I am in a place that is clean, well equipped, and the staff have become what can be called in a loving way, my extended family.
Resident with Estia Health