“You get to a stage when you're about 70 where the stairs get a bit hard to walk up. You have to get a gardener in to do the gardening.”
“And several of them decided that they were going to do something about it.”
“I wasn’t terribly interested, I must confess. I was very happy where I was. I didn’t have lots of stairs. The yard wasn’t too big.”
“I decided after seeing two places, I was going to stay right where I was.”
“Then about 2 months later, we found a brochure in the letterbox advertising the fact that the Holy Spirit [home] had an open day and that people were being invited along to see the new units that were being built.”
“So, I invited my friends over and had a look and said, ‘Why don’t we go there and come back and have morning tea and lunch and play cards for the rest of the day?’”
“I had no plans. No thoughts. But I have to say, as I came through the gates, there it was - gorgeous, half built, white, Mediterranean style apartments towering over these lovely villas.”
“And the ground looked so open. It looked like such a lovely place to live. And all of a sudden I turned to my 3 companions and said, ‘I’m going to come live here one day.’ And they all burst out laughing.”
“We were #34 on the waiting list, and even if it took 6 years, I knew I was going to live there.”
Thankfully for Pat and Les, an opening came up 6 years earlier than they had expected. When they got the call, they didn’t hesitate.
“It was the greatest decision, I think I’ve ever made."
I still get the same feeling I get on the open day when I came in. There’s something about this place. I don’t know what it is, but it’s a pleasure to live here."
While coming to live at Carseldine was Pat’s dream, her husband Les is another of the village’s biggest advocates.
“You could never find surroundings [like this] of nature to look at,” he says.
“It’s like you’re out in the bush here.”
“There’s no gardening. There’s no painting the house. Maintaining the house. Maintaining the yard. There’s none of that. It’s all done for us,” Les adds.
“It’s relaxing. You can make your life as hard or as soft as you like.”
“There’s always something to do. The chapel, the swimming pool. And there are mountains and mountains of activities you can do.”
“If you want to start a chess club for example. You find a half dozen people and you’re right. That’s what’s good about this place.”
“Best decision we ever made.”
For Pat, it’s the opportunity to truly do what you want to do that makes the lifestyle at St Vincent’s Carseldine special.
“You can be as quiet as you want. Noone makes you do anything you don’t want to do. But you can bring it all in if you want to. And yet people respect your privacy.”
While the surrounds and the buildings tick all the boxes, it’s the people that make the place truly feel like home for Pat and Les.
“We watch our next door neighbour and she watches us,” Les says.
“You don’t get that at a normal house. A normal house, the fence acts as sort of like a barrier. But here, if we don’t see our next door neighbour for a couple neighbours, we knock on their door to see they’re alright.”
“Reception will call if they haven’t seen you for a couple of days as well.”
“If you need something and someone was passing, you could always ask.”
But the community of people in the village not only encompasses the residents, but the staff too.
“The staff were wonderful as they are now. But they just felt confident. They made you feel confident.”
“If you have a problem, you just ring reception and it’s fixed. We had a hot water system break down on new year’s day of all days. Within a half hour it was fixed. These are the things that make the place enjoyable.”
“When you go to one of the resident meetings, the residents all gather, about 50 odd residents saying goodbye to this one member of staff [that’s leaving]. That’s when you see how well the residents think of staff. “
“It’s the friendly staff that make the place.”
According to Pat and Les, one of the biggest advantages of their unit lifestyle, tucked away at St Vincent’s Carseldine, is the safety
“It had style. It was safe. It had privacy.”
“Safety is terribly important.”
“You could never find a safer place.”
And not only do Pat and Les love the safety of the village, but their family is on board too.
“The family think it’s wonderful,” says Les.
“We’re being looked after. The staff here look after us all the time. The neighbours are looking after us. And we look after them too,” says Les.
“For the family it’s the best thing we’ve ever done.”
“You’ve gotta think of them. You must think of the family.”
“Just because they’re younger, doesn’t mean to have the right to demand they do everything for you.”
“I think people are a little frightened [of the move],” says Pat.
“But I have never been frightened of anything since I came here.”
‘Come in. Come in. There’s no hesitancy,’ says Les.
‘I’d recommend it to anybody. This is the place to come.’
‘I’ve lived here for 17 years and I’ve felt the same since the day I walked through that gate and said, ‘This is the place for me. I still feel the same.”