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Celebrating our older people

27 September 2021

Celebrating our older people

Getting outside for daily walks is an important part of each day for the residents.

Highlighting the stories, skills and contributions of the previous generations

Words Simone Worthing

“Our aged care services are designed around the needs of our residents and making their lives as happy and purposeful as possible,” says Melissa Delaney, Lifestyle Coordinator at The Salvation Army Moyne Aged Care Centre at Canowindra in NSW’s Central West.

“My role is to provide a stimulating, engaging and fulfilling program in both the Memory Support Unit, which is designed to meet the needs of those living with dementia, and in our mainstream area.”

The Moyne Aged Care Centre has the capacity for 68 residents.

Melissa says residents take each day as it comes in the Memory Support Unit. “We try to keep the unit as homelike as possible and encourage our residents to use skills they learned long ago to help keep them stimulated and prevent them becoming confused,” she says. “This can include daily tasks like washing-up and folding laundry, playing games, enjoying music, and looking after our pet rabbit, Gretchen.”

Gretchen, the rabbit, is well-loved by all the residents.

Getting outside for daily exercise is also a regular part of the residents’ day, with lockdown making this even more important. Melissa and her team escort the residents for walks in the local area, where they enjoy seeing cows, horses and even bison in surrounding paddocks. Residents from the centre’s mainstream area join these walks.

“Lockdown is taking its toll on our residents, with many of them now realising that their families have not come to visit lately,” says Melissa. “We are their family at the moment, so we’re trying to keep them stimulated and replace, as much as we can, what they are missing out on. We are developing stronger bonds with them, which does help. It’s hard for us all to understand and deal with what is going on, and it’s even harder for our residents.”

All residents have their own bedrooms. The main dining areas and activity rooms are shared spaces.

The residents in the mainstream area and Memory Support Unit regularly interact through activities suitable for both groups and when the mainstream residents come up to visit.

“We are seeing a younger cohort in our Memory Support Unit residents,” Melissa shared. “There are more people in their 50s and 60s coming in from all walks of life. It doesn’t matter who you are, what you’ve done for the world or your financial status, dementia is no respecter of persons. We are also educating our mainstream residents about dementia to increase their understanding and acceptance of everyone.”

During Dementia Action Week (20-26 September), The Salvation Army Aged Care centres will be running COVID-appropriate activities and events. At the Moyne Aged Care Centre, this week coincides with the now-cancelled Canowindra Show. “We will have our own mini-show, complete with balloons, sideshows and activities, even though families won’t be allowed in,” says Melissa. “Staff will dress up, and we’ll even be having Dagwood dogs and fairy floss.”

Other special events, such as lunches, and morning and afternoon teas, will also take place in the various centres for International Day of the Older Person on 1 October.

“I’ve been in this role for 19 years now, and I just love it,” says Melissa. “My father was 60 when I was born, so I grew up with an elderly father and related to older people. People tend to forget that the elderly are people with a life, a story, with skills to pass on and are still central to the community.”

Salvation Army Aged Care Centres

The Salvation Army Aged Care promotes a unique experience of choice, lifestyle and belonging for all people as they age. Its services span Australia with 21 residential aged care centres, seven retirement villages, one respite centre, and various community care services.

These services offer support for seniors in different stages of life, whether its help in the comfort of their own home, enjoying a maintenance-free lifestyle in one of the vibrant retirement communities, or requiring 24-hour care in one of the residential care centres.


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