The Aged Care industry in NSW and Australia wide has many misconceptions but we want to know the important questions. How vital is a carers friendship when receiving in-home care? The answer is simple: VERY, a social life helps you stay young at heart, emotionally vibrant and mentally sharp.
In a study run by epidemiologist Bryan James from the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Centre in Chicago, over 1,100 seniors were measured on their social levels and then periodically tested over a period of 12 years. James found that the rate of cognitive decline was 70 percent less for people with frequent social contact than those with low social activity.
Another study he conducted showed that they also maintained lower levels of disability and hence were capable of living independently for longer than people with less social contact.
The Relationship Priority
A key consideration in your loved one’s care should always be the quality of their relationship with their carer. Private Care prioritises not only a carer’s skill and knowledge but also their ability to build genuine connections. We match carers with clients to ensure the potential for lasting friendship but also, and importantly, our carers are trained to understand the appropriate professional boundaries.
Alice*, Shirley* and Ingrid*
Alice was a corporate chef before completing her course in aged care. She brings to her job an interest in food, history and stories. “You meet some amazing people on this journey,” says Alice, who was Shirley’s part time carer for more than six years before her elderly client passed away. “This job is very rewarding.”
When they first met, Shirley only needed a bit of extra help around the house after coming out of hospital. Then, as her husband went into permanent residential care and Shirley’s own needs changed, Alice became a permanent part of her life. The two women formed a strong bond and looked forward to their time together.
Seniors are more than just people who require services. They have a lot to offer. “Shirley was very well read and loved hearing poetry read out loud… I even tried talking her into putting together a personal memoir!” says Alice.
If you had met Shirley, you would have noticed that she was happy and optimistic: “Well, Alice and I have got an interest in a lot of things together. She loves to hear about the girls [Shirley’s granddaughters]… We have a lot of laughs. I know a lot of history that I can relate to her. Alice will say ‘No-no-no, that’s not right’. Then she’ll look it up on the computer and say “Yeah, you’re right!’.”
The two women also enjoyed spending time sharing recipes and planning Shirley’s meals. For a special treat, Alice occasionally took around a homemade cake for morning tea and the two women would taste test it and compare notes.
Shirley’s daughter, Ingrid, felt confident that in the last years of Shirley’s life, she was in very good hands. “I knew she was going to prepare some lovely food for Mum. I didn’t have to give any instructions and it was My Kitchen Rules around here all the time! Alice and Mum were very fond of each other. I have to say, she’s become a bit of a member of the family.”
Lynette*, Harry* and Beryl*
Like Alice and Shirley, the relationship between carer Lynette and married couple Harry and Beryl has also become warm and lasting. Having Lynette’s support and friendship has enabled the couple to stay in their own home, where one of their favourite activities is enjoying the garden they’ve nurtured for the past 50 years.
“We want to stay here as long as we can. We know it well, we know the neighbourhood. It would be a great blow for it to stop. I don’t think that people in care have quite the sort of experience you do at home with people coming to you,” says Beryl.
Lynette explains her approach to caring: “You’re there to get to know the person and find out what they want (and that’s not in a book!). You get to know them individually. You’re there to serve them and, inevitably — invariably — you become good friends.”
* Names have been changed to protect our clients’ privacy.