Everyone’s journey into aged care is a little different from the next.
Some have the opportunity to plan their entry in advance, undertake research and really make a considered decision on where they’d like to make their new beginning.
Others must make a swift decision on their new home following an unexpected medical incident like a fall, heart attack or stroke.
In some cases, a key decision that must be made is whether to enter care in their own town or relocate to be closer to family.
For Coral Hartley, the move to aged care involved a relocation from Bundaberg to Brisbane.
After a period of ill-health and hospitalisation, Coral faced the reality that living at home in Bundaberg was no longer practical – particularly given her son Stephen lives in Brisbane.
Recognising that the time had come for his Mum to shift to aged care, Stephen began making enquiries after hearing about Carinity Kepnock Grove in Bundaberg.
He was delighted to find about Carinity’s aged care community close to his home in Brisbane: Carinity Hilltop in Kelvin Grove.
For Stephen, being just down the road from Carinity Hilltop means he can pop up to see Coral every few days – along with her beloved Yorkshire Terrier, Coco, who is now an in-demand Hilltop celebrity.
Coral found the necessity to move a little harder to accept.
“Being born and bred in Bundaberg, I didn’t want to leave,” she says.
“When Stephen said he was shifting me, I kept thinking, ‘Can’t I just stay in the house?’ But I wasn’t well enough. It took a while to accept.”
It’s normal to feel this reluctance to leave and reticence to make such a significant life change, particularly when the decision can feel out of our hands.
Ramandeep Gill, residential manager at Carinity Hilltop, says her team focuses on supporting new residents to help them become at ease in their new home.
“We are always popping in and talking to our new residents, reassuring them, and helping them to settle into our community,” Ramandeep says.
Her tips for helping loved ones settle include trying to establish new friendships and personalising the room.
“Making their room homely, such as putting up photos of family, friends and life before their move can be very reassuring.
“Visiting regularly, if you can, is also important while your loved one settles in,” she says.
Her best advice for those making the move to aged care is to give it time.
“There’s always a settling in period. Give them time, and make the effort to join in the activities to help make new friends,” Ramandeep says.
Six months in, Coral says she’s feeling at home.
“It’s wonderful here. The smiles and waves as people walk by, it’s better than medicine,” she says.
Having made the difficult decision to move his mother, Stephen is pleased to see her enjoying life – receiving daily physio and enjoying delicious meals.
For him, he’s thrilled that the Carinity team are supporting his mother’s goal of getting up and about again.
“Once your body feels better your mind feels better and you feel happier.
“Getting up will help enormously with that,” Stephen says.
When asked what advice he would give to other families mulling over the need for aged care, Stephen says for him it’s great just knowing his Mum is getting the care she needs.”
“One thing is it’s never too early to get organised,” he says.
“Go and have a look, see what the aged care community is like, talk to people.
“Do it earlier, so you can get in and enjoy it.”