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Respite care, a holiday for people needing care

BaptistCare's Willmette respite care in Kellyville makes it possible for local woman Marzieh Brentnall and her 83-year-old mum Olga to get a holiday.

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17 June 2022

Stories | Home Care

BaptistCare's Willmette respite care in Kellyville makes it possible for local woman Marzieh Brentnall and her 83-year-old mum Olga to get a holiday.

For many, taking a holiday is as simple as booking time off work and going. But things tend to be more complicated for families where a person with dementia is being cared for at home. Carers often find it challenging to find suitable replacement care while they take a well-earned break. And people with dementia can fret over the idea of being left alone with strangers.

For Glenwood woman, Marzieh Brentnall and her 83-year-old mother, Olga, the solution to this challenging dilemma came from Willmette, a BaptistCare facility in Kellyville. Willmette is a place Olga likes to stay and where Marzieh knows she will be safe, cared for, and happy.

"Mum has lived at home with my husband Roger and me for the past 16 years," Marzieh explains. "About seven years ago, she developed dementia and four-and-a-half years ago, she was assessed by the local Aged Care Assessment Team who mentioned Willmette."

Marzieh explains Olga initially attended Willmette on a day basis. This gave Marzieh and her husband a break from their carer duties and Olga a chance to participate in outings and other organised Willmette activities.

Longer stay due to family emergency

A year later, when a family emergency struck, Marzieh felt confident leaving Olga in Willmette for a more extended period.

"I needed to go overseas to East Timor for an emergency, so Olga was in Willmette for a week or two," explains Marzieh. "That went very well. She had the grandsons visiting her every second day or so and in the end she said she felt safe and enjoyed every moment. She actually said she felt like she was on holiday!"

Olga, a BaptistCare home care client, has now enjoyed several longer-term stays in Willmette, allowing Marzieh and Roger to attend family celebrations, take holidays and attend to other emergency situations.

"We don't hesitate to put her there because she's well looked after," she says. "We trust the people there and I feel that mom's safe and happy."

An aged-care worker, Marzieh, says she thoroughly investigated Willmette's respite care in Kellyville and standard of care before leaving her mother. She was impressed by the staff's attitude and the facilities' quality. "I had an idea of what mum was getting into, but I wasn't sure about how mum would react," she says. "It was something new for her. But the first time she went, she came back and was quite happy. She said she'd had a great time. The people were really nice to her."

Weekend stays

Marzieh is also a home care client and says another thing she likes about Willmette is that BaptistCare allows shorter-term stays. "I can put my mum in for a short time. If I need to go away for a weekend, she can go there for a weekend. Most facilities don't do weekends; they only do two- or four-week stays."

She says Olga particularly enjoyed the activities at Willmette. "They do a lot of singing and dancing, and sometimes they go out to lunch. They watch DVDs, do arts and crafts, and help with cooking and washing."

So, what would Marzieh's advice be to other families considering Willmette? "I'd say to them, go and find out about it."

Figures from Carers Australia show some 2.7 million family and friend carers in Australia. 860,000 are primary carers, and half of these people care for someone over 65 years old.

There is high demand for both planned and emergency respite care facilities across Australia. This means many carers don't get the regular breaks needed to recharge their batteries. So we urge you to make enquiries today to ensure you can access government-supported or independent respite care and get the holiday you need.

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