BaptistCare Cooinda Court resident, Elizabeth, spoke with us about life in a residential aged care home, how she’s handled the change, and what advice she’d offer to anyone considering this lifestyle choice.
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31 July 2023
| Aged Care Homes
Elizabeth moved into Cooinda Court residential care home just under a year ago, but she’s been a familiar face to many in the BaptistCare community for a lot longer.
Having lived in the neighbouring retirement village, Willandra Village, for more than 22 years, Elizabeth is a highly esteemed member of the wider BaptistCare community in Macquarie Park and even served as the village council’s President and later, as Secretary of the residents’ committee.
Elizabeth has settled well into this new chapter of her life at Cooinda Court, and generously shared with us why she made the decision to move, what life is like day to day, and what advice she’d offer to anyone else considering residential aged care.
“I had been admitted to hospital with pneumonia,” Elizabeth reflects. “I know my family had been worried about my health and well-being even before I became ill, but the pneumonia was a real scare for all of us.”
Elizabeth and her children decided that she would be safer and better cared for at Cooinda Court, and they decided to make the move once she was discharged from hospital.
“My family helped me move all my things over from the village,” she says. “The staff have been marvellous, so welcoming and friendly, and I think part of the reason I’ve settled in so well here is because of their care and kindness.”
“In terms of day-to-day life, it’s been a big adjustment,” says Elizabeth.
“For a while, I didn’t do very much as I was so weak from the pneumonia.
“Initially, the staff would ask me, ‘do you want to come out of your room and do this or do that?’ - I always said no. I’m a very sociable person but I just wasn’t quite ready. I needed to do things in my own time.”
Elizabeth said that the BaptistCare team supported her as she adjusted and gave her the space she needed. “They didn’t pester me,” she smiles, “they respected my choices, and I was grateful for that.”
Elizabeth feels that the kindness of the staff helped her to recover from her illness. “Andrew the chaplain has been amazing,” she says, “and Maria, our care manager, is wonderful. She cares about each one of us.”
“One day, one of the girls invited me down to the dining room for lunch, and I just thought, ‘Why not?’ I decided to go, and I’ve been going to the dining room for lunch every day since.”
“I was pleasantly surprised to see lots of familiar faces I knew from my time in the village,” says Elizabeth. “I’ve made some new friends, too.”
Elizabeth says that the home is set up to allow residents their own space and privacy, with the option to also get involved in as many hobbies and leisure activities as they would like.
“There are plenty of things on offer to suit all interests,” she says.
Elizabeth herself loves to read and is an avid fan of John Grisham novels, which she enjoys taking out from the care home library.
“I also love to go on long walks every day,” she says. “It’s something I have always done, and is a great way to stay fit, keep my joints supple, and stay in a good headspace.”
Elizabeth spends 45 minutes each morning walking around her old stamping ground - Willandra retirement village - where she enjoyed many happy times.
She had served in the community in a prominent role here, volunteering as President of the Village Council, and later, as Secretary of the Residents’ Committee. An enthusiastic and dedicated leader, she pioneered many new ventures and high-profile events in the village, as well as being the on-call person for any of her neighbours in a tight spot!
Elizabeth also led an exciting career during her working years, supporting the production of communications equipment for the police and later, working on top-secret projects for the armed forces.
She, her late husband, John, and their three children were always incredibly close, and Elizabeth says her family remains the heartbeat of her life to this day.
“I would say it’s definitely worthwhile – take a chance, and give yourself time to settle in,” says Elizabeth. “I haven’t met anybody here who hasn’t said it’s the best situation for them.
“Each resident is treated with such dignity and care, particularly those who can’t get around as easily,” she adds.
Elizabeth says the adjustment into residential life can be challenging at times, but the key is to get to know people and stay occupied.
“I like chatting with the staff,” she says. “There are lots of diverse backgrounds and the conversations we have are so interesting. We share stories and strike up friendships. I love their energy and we have some good laughs.
“You never think it will be this way for you, and I certainly never saw myself spending my retirement in a village, let alone a care home” she continues.
“But if it happens it happens, and I think you just have to take note of the joyful moments each day.”
For Elizabeth, this includes taking a moment each day to listen and watch the local bird life, which she says is surprisingly active in Sydney’s Macquarie Park.
“My son has a few birds as pets,” she chuckles, “and I’ve been quite inspired by him. I like to sit out on my balcony and spot different species.
“I think that perhaps my attitude has helped with the adjustment – I’m generally a positive person. I moved from place to place during my childhood and so perhaps that has made me more resilient to change, but I think knowing my children are no longer anxious about my day-to-day wellbeing makes it all worthwhile.”
If you would like to know more about life in residential aged care, why not have a chat with one of our friendly staff – we’d be happy to talk with you about your individual care needs and organise a tour around your nearest BaptistCare home.
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