Making A Difference In The Lives Of Our Clients

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A married couple very much in love, Burt and Joyce were inseparable. We were looking after them for three years. They were able to live together and shared a bed up to the end. Joyce was full of life and constantly talking or providing advice – “Isn’t that right Burt!”. Burt however, was the model of a taciturn man who rarely offered anything to say other than a request for another cold drink. After three years of full time care the time came when we knew Joyce was in very poor health and we all assumed that Burt would have to live on without her. So it was a surprise when Burt told us that his doctor had told him he didn’t have long to live as the cancer, that he had requested be kept hidden from Joyce, had finally reached his internal organs –he was dead inside the month. Burt had only just been taken away by the funeral director when Joyce went to bed for the last time. They shared their funeral as well.
Burt and Joyce
We were first introduced to Howard F when he was diagnosed with terminal cancer. He refused to stay in Hospital and wished to pass away at home in the comfort of his beachfront apartment. Providing palliative care is an exhausting honour for my staff and one that they take very seriously. Keeping the dignity and spirit of both the living and the dying involves both tact, sensitive timing and the ability to deal with the ebb and flow of life and all its’ messy details. Pivotal to this process is effective pain relief, which is a specialist medical subset of skills that we outsource to the best organisations we can find, such as ; St Vincent’s, Karuna and Circle of life. One of Howards last wishes was that we continue to stay there in his apartment unit and provide support for his supposedly frail wife June, a former catwalk model who at that stage was starting to exhibit onset symptoms of age related dementia. Surprising all of us, June kept our staff for a further ten years , eventually requiring 24/7 care after a difficult series of bowel surgeries. Despite her increasing dementia, June never stopped being the lady of the house and always had high expectations of all the staff in terms of deportment, pronunciation and dress standards. On many occasions June called me to subtly request I speak to a particular carer to inform them that their shoes were not a good match for the rest of their outfit. Although exceedingly frail and often confused, June remains a arbiter of taste and style into her mid-nineties and is still very particular about whom she allows into her home.
Howard and June
85 years old and 80 years old
Richard was another client that we were called in to help with by his interstate Power of Attorney. He had moved into a nursing home and was having some minor difficulties with a few of the managers in his facility. The regular visits by our carers enabled us to intercede on Richards’ behalf and gain some level of satisfaction for Richard. It was lovely to be able to take Richard out for coffees at his long standing local and see his worries recede once he understood that he had someone on his side whenever he needed it. Once the issues were sorted we assumed that Richard would no longer require our visits, however Richard would frequently call us to arrange a visit from one or other of his regular “girls” to pep him up with a bit of a frivolous shopping expedition.
Richard D
73 years old at first service
Ross was a very short term client. Only six weeks from our introduction to his passing. However Ross wasn’t prepared to go until he had sorted out his affairs. Due to his abysmal balance problems and being a hefty man Ross was a terrible falls risk for my staff. Ross wanted to go to many different appointments with solicitors and real estate agents and so forth. He also had a hefty appetite for life in general , food and drink were a daily pleasure. Interestingly, once Ross was satisfied that his affairs were in order he went to bed with back pain. He died in hospital within a few days of his family arriving.
Ross B
87 years old
Olive required assistance when she was moved to a nearby aged care facility in her 80’s by her Power of Attorney. Jean had lived her entire adult life blind, following a childhood accident and was having difficulty coping with the being an aged blind person. We stepped in to provide some hands on assistance on behalf of her PoA. Mainly little chores like acquiring fresh clothing and toiletries up to and including taking her to appointments and haircuts. Eventually we organised a permanent weekly appointment to read her the newspapers and take her for a weekly coffee date. The general purpose of this visit was to give the nursing home staff the knowledge that Olive was not alone and that she had people looking out for her. Unfortunately so many people in our nursing homes have no one to advocate on their behalf and to ensure that they are getting the care that they are paying for. Jean is still having the same carers go to here today as when she first started a decade ago.
Olive W
85 years old at first service
Long term married couple with grown children who had moved to a carefully chosen nursing home after Jean was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Unfortunately Jean was assaulted in their room at the facility by another demented client. They and their children interviewed over two dozen companies to find the right team to look after Bryan and Jen in their cosy family home. Jean’s condition, always poor, swiftly deteriorated to the point where she required two person assist for hoisting and toileting. It was a struggle to find ways to fit a hoist and the other dedicated equipment into an older style home as well as the obvious issues of having double staff on hand when needed. However, with the help of great OT’s, lots of training days from our RN’s and some rostering flexibility we were able to provide a solution that kept Jean at home. Five years of 24/7 care later our team of long term carers had tears in their eyes as we sat through a beautiful service to honour the amazing lives that they had lived. We were grateful to have contributed a small amount to assisting a family to look after their wonderful parents safely.
Bryan and Jean
92 years old and 89 years old at first service
Mavis was our first client under the auspices of the Office of the Adult Guardian and the Public Trustee. She has been admitted to Greenslopes Hospital following a temporary severe UTI had left her dehydrated and confused. She remained there for months following a diagnosis of on-set dementia and was refusing to accept being placed in supported living. She stubbornly out lasted both the Hospital staff and the Trustee’s and insisted in going home to the modest post war home that she and her husband has built themselves in 1946. She treasured the home for all the memories and feelings that it evoked in her. It was however a large task to get it shipshape after years of Mavis being frugal with the decor budget. I still recall ‘the look’ and the conversation I had with her, after one of my staff put some curtains through the washing machine resulting in their complete disintegration. Mavis valued staff who were patient with her meandering conversations, but unusually she really liked the younger staff when she could live vicariously through their reported love lives. Mavis managed another 7 years of happy memories in Wavell Heights with the assistance of Caregivers before succumbing to an anti-biotic resistant STAP infection while once again being cared for at the Greenslopes Hospital.
Mavis B
84 years old at first service
Memorable for the way that we first encountered Pat was that fact that he had been in the full time care of his wife until she unexpectedly passed away during a routine minor surgical procedure. Pat was 90% blind in his only eye but he insisted on doing everything himself. Pat had had 8 books written about him and his remarkable life story was a true Hollywood epic. From his youth riding motorcycles in a Carnival ‘Globe of Death’, to his service in the NZ SAS during WW2, a career as a abalone diver, his stage success in the 1950’s as a Las Vegas Psychic & Stage Magician and friends with the ‘Rat pack’. Upon his retirement to the Gold Coast he dabbled at property development and writing successful crime noir novels. Pat was a no-nonsense man who was happiest when his bed sheets were “done proper”, the whiskey was cold and the steak rare. Pat and his wife, had surrounded themselves with a bevy of ladies; the home office Secretary’s, Chef’s and Girl Friday’s – but he loved having my Caregivers staff to be there on call for his personal care needs. I have fond memories of the Friday afternoons when he would invite me to visit, ostensibly to talk about his roster, but really to just enjoy a chat and a drink on his patio with me. Pat passed away a few months before his 100th birthday when he got impatient while awaiting the lift and tripped on the stairs. Even that wasn’t enough to finish him as he died in hospital from a post-operative infection.
Pat Q
97 years old at first service


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