Ann Morley and Warren Stevenson (pictured) are thrilled to be reconnecting with their local community after New South Wales lockdowns saw them largely isolated for months.
Along with their 232 fellow residents at HammondCare Waratah, the pair have been enjoying various bus trips around the area- most recently to the Swansea foreshore of Lake Macquarie.
On other occasions, the bus takes residents on outings to local churches for lunch, a cup of tea and a concert. There are occasions when it’s McDonald’s Drive-Thru for an ice cream or other times an assisted trip to the shops.
Lisa Boychuck, HammondCare Waratah volunteer, notes that the residents absolutely adore such trips.
“It is the focus of their week and gives them something to keep talking about,” she said.
It’s a thriving social programme, but there’s just one little problem: with just one, nine-seater bus available for all residents to share, the facility has found it impossible to offer more than a single, weekly trip.
It is for this reason that staff and residents alike are asking for help this Christmas to raise funds for a better and better bus.
The HammondCare Foundation’s Christmas Appeal 2021 is raising funds to make their wish come true, to enable the purchase of a 12-seater Mercedes Benz Sprinter minivan with two wheelchair lifts.
It would come as a welcome upgrade to their current model, which, apart from the smaller seating capacity, has little room for walkers and only one wheelchair lift.
Kerry Simpson, activities officer at HammondCare Waratah, said regular bus trips were about much more than just sightseeing outings or a break from routine for residents, many living with dementia.
“A bus enables residents we care for to go places and engage in and be part of society,” Ms Simpson.
“These types of engagement opportunities create a sense of purpose and give residents something to look forward to with adventure beyond their cottage environment,” she said.
Associate professor Colm Cunningham, HammondCare’s executive director for research and dementia design, said that bus trips are an essential component of relationship-based care.
“Having our own bus means residents can move at their own pace and not be rushed and our care staff can control environments,” Cunningham said.
“Being able to connect with the wider world keeps their mental health on a higher level and contributing to mobility and wellness.”
He said an important benefit of outings for people living with dementia is that they can bring back important positive memories, a part of reminiscence therapy.
The HammondCare Foundation has a target of $115,000 for the new bus. If you would like to get on board to support this Christmas project, go to hammond.com.au/donate or call direct on 1300 426 666.
HammondCare is an independent Christian charity, providing health, aged, dementia and palliative care services across the country.