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Hunters Hill Village was full of love and warm wishes on March 12, as resident Sheelagh Good celebrated an impressive milestone: her 104th birthday.
Twilight CEO Neil Wendt was there to join in on the fun and told us all about the beautiful celebrations.
“As CEO, I had the great privilege to be invited to attend Sheelagh Good’s 104th birthday party at Hunters Hill Village (HHV).
“What a great event it was – it made me very proud to be part of Twilight.
“We had several VIP guests, who all told me what a great team there was at HHV and how family-orientated the event felt.
“Congratulations to everyone who played a part in its organisation. A special big thank you to Recreational Activities Officer (RAO) Sadhna for using her marketing skills to get Sheelagh on live TV! The day started with a bang, with a live crossing to Channel 9’s Today show so that host Karl Stefanovic could hear from one of his biggest fans: Sheelagh!
“Channel 9 also brought their own Mexican mariachi band to play happy birthday.
“The weather was kind and we had residents and guests there to sing along, mingle in the garden and pay their respects to Sheelagh.
“Here we have Twilight’s Consultant Dietitian Giselle Brand, myself, HHV Facility Manager Mari, Clinical Governance and Innovation Manager Gladys, some of Sheelagh’s family, the local Mayor Ross and Councillor Elizabeth.
“And Channel 9’s Lara Vella with Mari and the Mayor.
“A special thank you to Personal Care Assistant (PCA) (Queen) Elizabeth, who made Sheelagh’s dress for the special day. Elizabeth you are so talented! Sheelagh looked radiant and the family were so happy with the dress.
“The hall looked fantastic. Thank you to all of the staff that worked back the night before and came in early to set things up. Even the balloons were brilliant and looked like flowers.
“Sheelagh made a grand (dancing) entrance with PCA Elizabeth, RAO Sadhna, PCA Rosula and singer Col Joye. When I grew up in Australia everyone loved Col Joye and he was always on TV entertaining people. He seemed to really enjoy the opportunity to dust off his ukulele and serenade his friend Sheelagh.
“Sheelagh’s table was filled with gifts, flowers and cards from famous people. Even the Prime Minister wrote to her.
“And there were flowers from local MP’s and Hunters Hill Council.
“The cake was a big sensation, thanks to Cook Yvette for her beautiful work.
“The catering team were outstanding as usual and supplied a great feast.
“HR Coordinator Ed was a very good MC and there were speeches from Mari, myself, the Mayor, and family members. All were jovial, which added to the atmosphere.
“Art Therapist Joanne did a wonderful video of Sheelagh’s life. I was sitting with the family at the time and they loved it.
“There was more flowers, a final speech from Sheelagh herself and then the amazing cake was cut, with the assistance of our Patron John Laurie.
“Well done to everyone from HHV. It was a real celebration of Sheelagh’s life and vibrancy and the event was the perfect embodiment of the Twilight Family Model of Care.”
The final word goes to the wonderful woman herself, who said, “I want to thank everyone and appreciate what everyone did to make my birthday so special. I love my two daughters and adore my granddaughter. I was also very happy for Col Joye to attend my birthday and play my favourite songs.”
Happy birthday Sheelagh, from your Twilight family!
Twilight Aged Care was proud to be a sponsor of the recent Bondi2BlueMtns four-day, 650km charity ride, which raised money for Dementia Australia.
Event Co-Founder Nick Young approached Twilight about the opportunity because of his personal connection to Twilight.
Nick’s father was diagnosed with dementia at the age of 67. After family spent years caring for him at home, the time came to explore full-time, professional care.
Nick said, “We settled on Twilight’s Glengarry in Mosman, as both my grandparents had been cared for there. Despite the addition of new technologies and modern amenities, it still had the lovely family home charm that Mum felt comfortable with, knowing that Dad was in good hands.
“There were still some friendly, familiar faces who had cared for my grandparents, and who knew our family quite well. This made the transition to Glengarry a little easier.”
On Saturday 6 March (Day 1 of the charity ride), Nick, along with his fellow riders – including Twilight CFO Martin Pengilly – were welcomed to Twilight’s Horton House for breakfast.
Speeches were made by Liberal Member for Ku-ring-gai Alister Henskens, Twilight CEO Neil Wendt, and Nick, who presented Twilight with a ‘Thank you’ plaque.
Residents enjoyed (socially-distanced) interactions with the riders and everyone was thankful for the delicious cooked breakfast by Twilight’s Chef Manager.
What followed was four gruelling days of cycling. But the hard work was worth it, as the riders raised $175,000 for Dementia Australia.
Nick said, “The event wouldn’t have been possible without the generous support of our sponsors, and it was a privilege to have Twilight Aged Care as an event partner for this ride.
“Martin, Twilight’s CFO, also participated as a rider, and it was great to have a sponsor and rider on the road with us, sharing the same passion we do – to raise awareness of dementia and help find a cure.”
Under the Twilight Family Model of Care, residents are valued as individual members of our family, and their unique interests are catered for through Twilight’s Activity Program.
This month, we caught up with Twilight’s Lifestyle and Volunteer Coordinator Elaine Wyse to find out more about the program.
How does the program work?
At each of our Twilight homes, we have a 7-day Activity Program. The Activity Program includes both group and individual activities and social interactions which aim to meet individual residents interests, needs and preferences. The program is led by our team of Recreational Activities Officers (RAOs).
How do you ensure the activities are suited to the residents?
This is an important aspect of the activities we offer at Twilight. Our homes are run under the Twilight Family Model of Care, so we want to ensure that each resident is valued as a member of the Twilight family, and that the activities we offer reflect each residents unique interests.
To ensure the activities meet our residents needs, our RAOs hold regular Resident Meetings and Activity Planning Meetings in the homes to discuss what activities, outings and events the residents would like to see introduced to the monthly Activity Calendar.
This allows us to really get to know the residents interests, and for them to give their feedback on what they would like to see happening in their home. RAOs also have regular one-on-one visits with the residents, to ensure that their interests and needs are being met.
How has COVID-19 affected the program?
Unfortunately, the COVID-19 restriction period meant that most external providers such as singers and entertainers, musicians, dog therapists, chair Zumba, church services, kindy visits and volunteers were unable to visit our residents. It also meant that family visits were restricted.
Our RAOs have had to be creative and find alternative activities to continue to meet our residents’ needs and interests and ensure that the residents remained connected with the community.
The internet became their new best friend, and the residents learned about a whole new world of technology. The RAOs introduced activities such as:
Can you share with us a good news story that you’ve seen come out of the program?
One story that comes to mind is about a close friendship that was formed during the COVID–19 restriction period between one of our residents at Glades Bay Gardens and a Twilight volunteer.
Our resident Liz met volunteer Ashima back in April 2020 when they were successfully matched and began to have weekly virtual visits via Teams.
Ashima and Liz talked for an hour every week and they both looked forward to their catch ups.
Together, Ashima and Liz created Liz’s life story and made it into a book with all her photos and special memories. They continue to talk every week and are looking forward to meeting face-to-face when it is safe to do so.
How do volunteers factor into the program?
Volunteers are a big part of Twilight’s Leisure and Lifestyle Program. They provide residents with cultural, spiritual, social and emotional support, friendship, and companionship.
My family member lives at one of your homes. How can I ensure they are doing the activities they enjoy?
We value all feedback and suggestions from our residents and their representatives regarding lifestyle needs and activities, so please feel free to contact the house RAOs, Facility Manager, or myself (Elaine Wyse), or complete one of our Your Feedback is Welcome forms, which can be found at the home, or on our Twilight website.
Dorothy Matlak (nee Shipp) has lived at Twilight Aged Care’s Glades Bay Gardens in the Sydney suburb of Gladesville for over 20 years.
Twilight’s Manager Staff Services, Emily Hams and CEO, Neil Wendt, caught up with Dorothy to find out what brought her to Glades Bay Gardens and learn more about her fascinating life story.*
We met Dorothy in her lovely unit at Glades Bay Gardens (GBG) in Gladesville. Twenty years ago, Dorothy offered to drive a good friend to visit a hostel that she was interested in inspecting. Dorothy took one look at the rooms and view and decided she would move in herself.
That was over two decades ago and Dorothy is still very happy with her choice. Dorothy shared that she is not a person that makes big decisions quickly, but for some reason she knew this was a chance she had to take. So Dorothy sold up the family home at Chatswood, where she had raised her two daughters Susy and Ellie, and moved to GBG.
Dorothy was born in 1926 in Vienna, Austria. Her father was a lawyer, however due to being Jewish, their welfare was at risk as Hitlers’ influence grew across Germany and Austria, so her parents decided to leave Europe.
Dorothy said that at that time Australia was seen as the place to go. To be given a visa to Australia was like “winning the lottery”. Over dinner with friends, her parents were encouraged to complete an application form, though she recalls her father saying, “this is a waste of time as we won’t get in”.
Their application was successful and in 1938, as Hitler marched into Vienna, Dorothy, her brother George and her parents fled by train to Zagreb, Yugoslavia, where they spent a month before heading to Napoli for the long boat trip to Australia.
They sailed on the Italian liner ‘Romolo’, which Dorothy recalls as being a luxurious ship. She still remembers the wonderful smell of the cheeses at meal times!
As a 14-year-old, the entire journey from Vienna was seen as a bit of an adventure. Dorothy says she didn’t realise the gravity of the situation and that this was really a matter of life or death. Her grandmother was unable to leave Austria and she died at Auschwitz at the hands of the Nazis.
The ship travelled from Naples to Messina, Port Said to Aden, Colombo, Freemantle, Adelaide, Melbourne and finally they arrived in Sydney in 1938 and took residence at Potts Point. Years after travelling to Australia on Romolo, she met a man who was born on the very same voyage to Australia. He gave her a small framed picture of the boat which hangs on Dorothy’s wall.
Her father was not able to practice as a lawyer, so they started from scratch. Dorothy’s mother was a good cook and one day the local nuns tasted her cakes and ordered some for their convent. From there the business grew and soon the entire family had a role in making and delivering cakes and biscuits. Eventually, the family opened a small cake shop at Milsons Point, down near Luna Park.
Dorothy was attracted to social work, and after completing a degree she moved to Canberra to work for the Australian Immigration Department as a counsellor. At that time, she was very good at table tennis and played competitively. Dorothy went on to win the Australian women’s title four times and was inducted into the Australian Table Tennis Hall of Fame in 2008.
As noted by the Canberra Times, in 1949 Dorothy held the Australian, Victorian and NSW women’s championship at the same time.
Dorothy loved social work, and was eventually transferred to Sydney in 1952. At a friend’s wedding, she met a young man studying his Masters in Mathematics. She recalls saying to her friend, “this is the type of man I can see myself marrying”. Sure enough the pair did marry and had many wonderful years together raising their two girls Susy and Ellie.
Dorothy now has five grandchildren and one great-grandchild, named Archer. She secretly admitted to us that at 18 months she can already tell that Archer is a genius and he is also the most perfect great-grandchild she has met. She said you can tell by the look of wisdom in his eyes.
Dorothy has been back to Europe several times, but feels no particular tie to Austria. She does love Italy though and listens to Italian music. She had a wonderful holiday there with her family and still recalls the amazing hotels they stayed at.
It was a pleasure to have our chat and coffee with Dorothy. She told us at the start that she had an ordinary life, but I think you will agree with us that’s far from true! How different her life and family would have been if they didn’t win that lottery to Australia.
As we left, Dorothy admitted that she used to be a mad keen pinball machine player and requested one for Glades Bay Gardens.
*Please note, this story was written prior to mandatory mask wearing requirements.
This week, we meet Hunters Hill Village resident Loraine and Personal Care Assistant Raghu.
“Raghu helps me in many ways, including making my bed and getting my wardrobe organised.
“Raghu treats me like family and she is so helpful and kind.
“I look forward to talking to Raghu anytime, and I especially enjoy her company on the Hunters Hill Village bus trips.”
“Loraine is a very friendly resident. She is witty, always helpful, and has taught me to treat one and all with respect.
“Loraine enjoys reading, is interested in history, and shares a lot of knowledge about Australia with me.
“She keeps up with fashion and is always helpful to other residents.”
The NSW Department of Health has made it mandatory that flu vaccinations are required for all visitors to this facility.
Furthermore, we are required to take all reasonable steps to ensure that a person does not enter or remain on the premises if they do not meet the influenza vaccination requirements.
We will be requiring appropriate evidence of immunisation status from individuals seeking to enter our homes. Accordingly, if you plan to visit or enter our facility you must provide this evidence. Without it, you cannot enter.
Appropriate evidence may be a statement or record from a health practitioner, or an immunisation history statement available from Medicare online or the Express Plus Medicare mobile app.
Twilight will be maintaining records to support our compliance with this requirement.
Exceptions – Please note that NSW Health is taking a reasonable approach to this requirement. If a person is allergic to the vaccine or has a medical reason for not being able to have it, then this may be acceptable.
There are however only limited medical contraindications for having the vaccine and Twilight will be requesting a copy of a medical certificate or similar evidence from a medical practitioner confirming that a person cannot have the vaccine for medical reasons.
For more information, check out the NSW Government Health
In times like these, our days might feel a bit more stressed and anxious. It’s easy to become overwhelmed by everything on the news and get swept into a rabbit hole of COVID-19 news and speculation.
So, it is important to stop, take a breath and connect with the people we hold dear. Our friends and family are an essential support network that we can rely on.
But with aged care, this situation becomes more difficult. Older Australians are more at risk and need a high level of risk management and care. Physical contact is now being limited to stop the spread of coronavirus. Twilight Aged Care, and other aged care facilities around Australia, are locking down our homes to protect vulnerable residents from the risk of coronavirus.
So, this means we will have to connect with elderly loved ones in new ways. Luckily, there are some simple alternatives and tips for doing this.
People who want to get in contact, schedule weekly online chats, or explore communication options with relatives and friends at Twilight Aged Care can do so here. Call the our home to get in contact with our Concierge.
Our new Concierge will work directly with friends and families to assist you with your technology needs. If you wish to discuss this further, please speak with our Facility Managers.
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A lot happens to our loved ones after being diagnosed with dementia.
Difficulties in tasks and communicating trickles into every aspect of their lives, including the ability to hold ordinary, every-day conversations. You might find it harder to communicate to your loved ones, who can lose focus partway through talking to you or become confused easily. Even normal chatter can be impacted. This is a heartbreaking thing to experience. Especially since conversations are an important part of preserving our relationships with people.
Yet there are tips to help create a positive conversational experience. This is a short guide to help you have engaging and encouraging conversations with those living with dementia. Giving them a more active role in the conversation, and socially stimulating people; an essential part of slowing the symptoms of dementia.
Before even engaging with someone who is living with dementia – look at the room. Take note if there is anything distracting in the area, like a television or a radio turned on. Objects that will make too much noise. Turn these off or remove them from the area.
Consider the time as well. Ask yourself if you have enough time to spare for the conversation. Is it near lunchtime? And if so, would the person you’re about to talk to be hungry or thirsty without realising it? This could make them irritable or tired when you talk to them and spoil any attempts at conversing. If either one is lacking, maybe it would be best to have a shorter conversation.
Ensuring that your body language is engaged and direct is important. Physically turn so you are facing them and maintain direct eye contact – this will all make sure that you look like you are giving them your full attention. Sometimes, if they are distracted, a light touch on the shoulder can get their attention. However, only do this if you are familiar with them and confident that this physical contact will not be confronting.
Make sure that you have a light and happy facial expression. Smiling will help reassure and calm the person you are talking to, especially if they become frustrated during the conversation.
One-on-one conversations are usually best when talking to a loved one with dementia. This will ensure that you have a greater chance of capturing their attention and ensuring that the conversation is manageable and understandable with time to respond.
If you have a group conversation instead, the discussion may become complicated and hard for them to follow. Don’t put too much pressure on them to keep up with the conversation topics and ensure that you engage them every now and again.
Talk about the things that you know they are interested in. Talk about their hobbies, and stories about their younger years – this can help to bring back happy memories and create a more engaging and cheerful conversation. Ask them the story about a photo in the room or a treasured object, the visual cue can help them orientate the chat and stimulate a pleasant memory.
Using non-verbal cues like pointing or acting out ideas can help get conversation points across and simplify talking points. If you are prepared, you could bring along a photo album to stimulate conversation or a familiar toy from earlier years. However, common objects in the room can serve a similar purpose.
Speak clearly and slowly, with pauses at the end of sentences so that your loved one can fully process what you are saying. Do not raise your voice or yell at them if you think they are being slow to respond, sometimes they may need time to think about a reply.
Using closed-ended questions is also better for engagement. For example, asking someone, “would you like a cheese sandwich for lunch?” is better than asking, “what do you want for lunch?”. The simpler version of the question makes it easier to engage with a person living with dementia who may find the latter question too open-ended and complex.
Avoid using the discussion as a test of how far spread their dementia is. This will put pressure on the performance of the conversation and create tension that they will be able to feel. This is a chat and not an interrogation.
Realise that there will be good and bad days when talking to a loved one with dementia. Sometimes they not be very responsive or engaged with the conversation, and there is nothing you can do about that.
Stick to one idea at a time when talking, and if you are discussing a complex topic, talk about it in smaller segments. Maybe try using the names of places and people instead of pronouns like “he” and “she” to clarify things better. Avoid using slang or turns of phrase. People who are living with dementia tend to regard these are literal and become confused.
It is also important that you refrain from correcting them if they get a fact or remember something wrong. Instead, use this to engage with them. For example, instead of saying “You stopped working at the hospital years ago, remember?” engage and say, “Tell me more about your work”. Correcting them may result in your loved one becoming further confused or frustrated with the conversation, and the aim is to retain a light and encouraging talk.
If you want more information on communicating with someone living with dementia, Alzheimer’s Society is a great source.