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14 Trees

by Jan Marshall 0 Comments
14 Trees

In response to the profound unhappiness that my mother was experiencing in her residence in aged care, before Christmas she took things into her own hands.  Firstly, she asked me to make contact with other aged care places she had looked at to see where she was on the waiting list.  No good news was forthcoming from this – she was still on the list… and waiting.

Mum had determined that she did not want to be in a place that was run under the profit motive, as her residence then was, as she blamed this for the low quality of care/low carer to resident ratio.  As well, she wanted somewhere that was physically endowed with gardens and outdoor areas.  As I was moving to Bundoora, proximity to me was also a factor.

A place that was mentioned by her carers was Vasey House in Bundoora, run by the RSL and a not for profit residence. What we found the following week on a regular weekly tour that we attended was a large home, organised into wings each with its own dining area, multiple activity spaces and surrounded by gardens.  The individual rooms were a bit small, but otherwise it looked ideal, and we were told that there was a very low turnover of carers.  We also took the time after the tour to talk to the acting DON, as we knew that building a relationship was a key to being accepted into anywhere.  Miraculously they also indicate that they had rooms available.  We took the application, and made sure it was completed and returned by the end of the week. We did not quite believe they had rooms available, and were resigned to an ongoing wait.

Lo-and-behold the following week Mum was offered a room! We looked at the room, and despite it being smaller than her current room, she was determined to take it to move from where she was.  With the help of my brothers, the move was organised for the following Monday.

In the process of moving Mum let go of her bidet, her desk (there was a small one built in to the room), her small fridge and the cabinet this was standing on, and several weeks after moving in, also swapped her book case for a smaller one.  All this to adapt to the smaller/different footprint in the room.

On the plus side, the over the toilet chair they provided suited Mum and she was able to get off under her own steam –  she had not been able to do this for a few months since a fall when she hurt her foot so this was a real achievement.

The first week was a bit of a shocker, for both the carers who were not used to someone with Mum’s type of disability or her forthrightness is speaking up for herself and what she needs to facilitate her own care, and for Mum having to deal with lots of new carers and explaining her needs and wants. But they all got through this.

Gradually things have settled down, as Mum and carers have go to know each other.  As well, the kitchen has made an effort to cater to mum’s likes, getting her good plain yoghurt, and making her nice salads.  Food has been of a much better quality, and they have even catered to family visits with separate tables for us to eat together.  My older brother said of one meal of a variety of fish bites and salad that it was as good as what he would have paid $18 for at his local pub!

Mum is also having her meal in the dining room with others, which she never did at her last place, and has participated in a number of the activities provided, especially one where they do a crossword on a big board.  She has also loved times when piano music has been played by guests or residents.

Most of all Mum loves the garden, being able to get outside and sit in a shady spot, with fresh air and trees around her.  She told me the other day that there were 14 trees there, mostly small gums.  She said it with wonderment, that she could be outside, and enjoying all these trees around her. I know some of them are outside of the fence, but to her it is her own forest to sit and be in… and we know the healing effect of nature.  This is in contrast to 4 years of only having an outside area in a carpark adjacent to a busy road, where several gums that were there were cut down because of danger to the cars. She is in heaven in comparison. She also wanders around the lovely gardens between each wing. She can also go out the front door of the complex and enjoy views across parkland to distant hills.  Having a vista was also something she sorely missed at her previous place.

She is finding some friends amongst the carers, and amongst the other residents, and my younger brother commented this week that she looked the best she had in ages.

There are still some things not exactly right. Mum is sensitive to light and noise at night, and she is having problems with both of these in the location of her room. She has asked to be considered for a room change.  This will be considered by the new DON.

But ultimately, there are so many positives for Mum in the move that it was definitely the right thing for her to do.  I’m not sure if many people know that they can actually move if the residential care they find themselves does not suit them.  Many people in aged care have an attitude of “I won’t complain – I won’t rock the boat”.  With more emphasis being placed on resident choice, residents taking it on themselves to move to better places might become much more common.

Be Happy!

by Jan Marshall 1 Comment
Be Happy!

One day this week mum found that the only carers available to her that morning were two 19 year old girls. She was aghast! How could they at their young age be expected to look after 28 elderly, including 4 who needed two staff to be hoisted to sitting, or to the toilet. Both had only been working as carers a short time, and had not done the morning shift in her section before.

They were lovely girls, she said, enthusiastic and willing, but that’s not the point. Admittedly they had been scheduled on with an older more experienced carer, but that person called in early unable to attend due to a sick child.  The more experienced carer was not replaced, leaving the two young girls to manage the morning shift for 28 people between them. Mum feels more comfortable with mature women carers, as she can develop better friendships with them. She doesn’t have much in common with the younger ones, and building a friendship is important as carers are her main contacts on a daily basis.

Groundhog days in Aged Care

by Jan Marshall 0 Comments
Groundhog days in Aged Care

The concept of groundhog day has been popularised in the film by that name with Bill Murray as the main character, where he experiences the same day occurring over and over again. This happens for Mum every time there is someone new taking care of her.  That could be a new carer, or as with events this week, even with someone new in the kitchen.

Mum has special needs.  She is not the person going slowly demented, and waiting to die.  She is bright of mind, but has lost muscle in her arms and legs. She cannot use her hands or do anything for herself.  She has no grip, and no movement in her fingers and her hands hang from a wrist no longer strong and straight.  She can only feed herself by using special cutlery with very thick handles that she is only able to partially grip, and move them using the strength that still remains in her upper arms. This is all because she has a neurological condition – a form of slow progressing  motor neuron disease where all her limb muscles are wasting away.

Because she cannot cut anything, she has instructions on the name tag on her food tray for her food to be cut into bite size pieces.  I was unexpectedly there when she had lunch this week and the food came all shredded, ie, slightly larger than if it had been grated. Even the peas were chopped up!

Submission to “Willing to Work: National Inquiry into Employment Discrimination Against Older Australians”

Submission to “Willing to Work: National Inquiry into Employment Discrimination Against Older Australians”

I submitted the following, via the group Seniorpreneurs to this inquiry. (they asked for 300 words only)

Having 20 years of experience as a change manager in corporate and government jobs has not been enough to get me a job in this field, or any other field since I was retrenched in September 2014.  At 61 years old, after unsuccessfully going for permanent, contract and temporary jobs in my field, I tried to utilise my extensive skill set and previous career experiences to step sideways and downwards into other jobs that I know I could easily do.  I even tried to get temporary office work.

First Speaking Gig

I am proud of myself.  Today I had my first public speaking event with Grimshaw Probus Club in Melbourne’s North Eastern Suburbs.  One of many I hope.

Jan Marshall Speaker

Jan Marshall Speaker

I spoke on The Dangers of Love in the Online world: My experience of an online romance scam.  It was very well received, and I think many people now have a different take on what happens in a scam.

Here is a quotable quote from me, based on Brene Brown’s concept of ‘daring greatly’, which she takes from Theodore Roosevelt.

In being open to love, and going on to an online dating site I “dared greatly”.  Like the person on the field who looses, I lost.   I played the wrong game, or played the game wrongly.  But at least I was playing.  And I need to not take it personally and keep playing.

Have a look at my speaker profile – Jan Marshall Speaker Profile