On the fence of aged care and staying at home, Harold found his happy medium

It’s hard to move from a big house into a retirement living unit. It’s even harder, at the same time, to bring people into your unit to help care for you. 

But that’s exactly what Harold, his late wife and their daughter Michelle, all had to navigate.

harold and michelle sitting on a couch together in a retirement living unit

“We looked at retirement villages all up and down the coast,’ says Harold’s daughter, Michelle. “Dad being Catholic, we looked at two Catholic ones, so St Vincent’s here and the one at Ashmore.”

“Mum and Dad sort of indicated that they liked the sound of St Vincent’s here because it had the facilities and when the time comes, the extra care (on site aged care).. And Southport here is so close to everything they need.”

While they had been living at the villa for nearly 18 months, it was only just after a year that Harold’s wife, tragically passed away.

“I usually try to pop in when I can and on weekends as well. And now since Mum passing away in July, the care package side of things has been great as Dad has Alzheimer’s. We had to make sure Dad had the right care in place so that he can remain living independently.”

On top of the stress of losing his wife, Harold had to get used to the idea of strangers helping him out at home which would be difficult for anyone.

“I was a bit iffy about it because all my life I’ve cared for myself and now I’m just not used to that sort of thing,” says Harold.

Recently Harold had his home care package upgraded to be able to provide the extra support he needed to stay at home. While it’s meant more adjustment from more regular visits from St Vincent’s people, it’s also meant Harold still remains independent. Not only that, but it’s been peace of mind for Michelle and the extended family.

“The care he’s been receiving three times a day seven days a week has been great. They come in to do his cleaning, keep a good eye on him, make sure things are getting done around the place, take him shopping as well. So, it has been great.”

“They seem to be willing and always ask you if there’s anything they can do, you know,” adds Harold. “They come in every morning to make sure I’ve had all my medication, had a meal, make the bed. If they see other little bits and pieces around the place, they’ll pick them up.”

“They’re quite good about it. It’s quite good actually.”

Michelle agrees.

“It helps keep everyone’s, including my three siblings who can’t be here as often as myself, it helps keep all of our minds at ease knowing that Dad is being well looked after.”

According to Michelle, one of the unexpected parts of the care was the relationships built up with carers and the home care team.

“Debbie [carer], we saw her when we were just out at Australia Fair [shopping centre] just earlier. She was with one of the residents here and she was getting out of the lift as we were going in, so, you know, having a quick chin wag then.”

“Then after Dad and I had done the grocery shopping, pulled up here and Deb was across the road and because I was in a different car this time so she called across the road asking if I’d got a new car.”

“So, it’s those sorts of details you know that they see that. That you're not in your normal car. It’s wonderful they take an interest in, not only Dad, but in myself coming. They do see me regularly enough as well and the other carers that come in too. Heather on the weekend knows I’m a Suns supporter and she’s a Swans supporter so you know she’s taken that interest to know, not only Dad, but family as well.”

“Astra and Jacinta I email them for anything for Dad and get a response as quickly as possible. Nothing ever seems to be a drama or a problem.”

A time will come when he won’t be able to live in this sort of environment. You know, a day will come when he’s going to have to move to high care. But we’ll want it to be a bit more personable for him.

We cannot fault in any way shape or form the way they [aged care nurses] treated us allowing Dad to be taken in and out when things were locked down.

It was just that whole tough time psychologically for all of us. But we can’t thank St Vincent’s enough for how caring and kind they were.