My Twilight Tale: Lisa Vale

Lisa Vale is currently acting as Twilight’s Lifestyle and Volunteer Coordinator. In this role, Lisa reports to Staff Services Manager Emily Hams. Emily caught up with Lisa recently to chat about her journey with Twilight.

Emily: It is wonderful that you are acting in the Coordinator role for us Lisa. I am impressed how you started as a volunteer and now you are a Coordinator. Can you share with us some of your story?

Lisa: I actually started as a volunteer. My father was unwell in Queensland and I was not able to see him at the time. I was worried that he may be feeling lonely. It made me think about elderly people and how some would appreciate a visit.

I have lived all of my life in Gladesville and did my schooling locally at Gladesville Public School and Malvena High. So, I googled ‘local aged care homes in Gladesville’ and Glades Bay Gardens came up first. I called them to say I was interested in volunteering  as a visitor.

The first resident I was ‘buddied’ with was Jill. I came once a week to visit her and talk about life. I also brought along my son Ethan. He was a big hit with everyone here and used to wander around talking to everyone.

After around about 5 months Sai asked if I would like to consider a role as a Recreational Activities Officer. Initially it was only one day a week, but I loved it. The work kept growing and you (Emily) suggested I consider some study in that field. I enrolled in the Certificate 4 Lifestyle & Leisure course at Meadowbank TAFE. I was working three days a week then and the course took 6 months to successfully complete.

Not long after that I found myself working full time and also covering in the admin and concierge roles when required. Now, almost three years later, I am acting in the Coordinator role.

Emily: What have you liked best about your time with Twilight?

Lisa: I have loved every role I have been a part of at Twilight, as it feels like my second home with all my grandmothers and grandfathers a part of it.

Honestly, I think the residents really make the role and their appreciation of what you do for them is endless and heartfelt. I think my RAO role was so fulfilling it honestly was the best job I have ever held.

Emily: Are there any moments that stand out?

Lisa: I think the most outstanding moments at Twilight are Culture of the Month days at Glades Bay Gardens, as we all get involved with the residents with dress ups and great music, dancing and Ramina’s cooking.

I also love catching up with Jill (pictured) when I can. It was her birthday on 6 October and it was nice to share some of that day with her.

Twilight named NSW/ACT Organisation Award Winner at LASA Awards

Twilight Aged Care is excited to announce that we have been named the NSW/ACT Organisation Award Winner at the Leading Age Services Australia (LASA) 2021 Excellence in Age Services Awards. 
Twilight CEO Neil Wendt said, “Being recognised in this way is a great honour for our staff. Throughout a difficult year they have worked tirelessly to ensure our residents are safe and well.

“Our focus is not on winning awards; it is on providing excellent care for our residents. But it certainly feels good to receive such a significant accolade from the age services peak body LASA.”

Twilight Board Chair Lorraine Lovitt said, “On behalf of our Board, we are extremely proud of this award. It is an acknowledgement on the exceptional care that our staff provide to our residents and the support provided by our Executive team. This is the essence of Twilight.”

Watch the announcement here.

Hunters Hill Village resident Sheelagh celebrates a happy 104th birthday

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 supports dementia research through Bondi2BlueMtns sponsorship

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.”

How Twilight’s Activity Program tailors activities to residents unique interests

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).

Twilight Aged Care’s Recreational Activities Officers

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:

  • Virtual concerts
  • Virtual dog therapy
  • Virtual dance sessions (such as Chair Zumba and Chair Yoga)
  • Virtual church services (some were led by the residents themselves)
  • Armchair travel
  • Virtual museum and zoo visits
  • Intergenerational projects with local schools, including card writing and individualised artworks
  • Cards with Care and Pen Pals with Purpose (UNSW’s Volunteer Army)
  • Virtual morning teas
  • Virtual visits with family and friends via Microsoft Teams
  • Social Window of Love
  • Virtual volunteers who continue to run games of Hoy and Bingo
  • Green Thumbs Gardening Club with Twilight’s Gardener David
  • Virtual Art Exhibition led by Twilight’s Art Therapist Joanne

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.

Liz and Ashima on a video meeting

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.

Getting to know Glades Bay Gardens long-term resident Dorothy and her fascinating life

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.*

Emily and Dorothy

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’s home at Glades Bay Gardens in Gladesville

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.

One of Dorothy’s table tennis trophies

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 and her husband

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.

Dorothy’s family holiday to Italy

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.

Meet the Twilight Family: Loraine and Raghu

This week, we meet Hunters Hill Village resident Loraine and Personal Care Assistant Raghu.

(This photo was taken prior to the mandatory wearing of masks by all Twilight staff members)

Loraine on 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.”

Raghu on Loraine

“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.”

11 Best Exercises for the Elderly

The best exercises for those over 75 years wise. 

As the winter season hits, it’s good to get the blood flowing and keep the body warm with light exercise. This goes double for elderly Australians who arguably benefit more from good exercise more than other age groups.  

So, let’s discuss all the benefits of continuing to exercise as you get older and the different ways that you can get your heart rate up safely and healthily. Because age shouldn’t be a barrier to quality of life! 

Benefits of exercising 

Let’s quickly go through some of the benefits of exercise before we tell you the best ways to keep fit.  

  • Exercise is a great way to maintain or build muscle. Retaining strength is difficult for older Australians on diet alone, so a bit of light exercise is perfect for keeping fit.  
  • Maintaining and controlling weight. A lot of us lose or gain weight as we age which can be stressful.  
  • Develop a better sense of balance and prevent the risk of falls. Regular exercise keeps you standing upright and can even improve your posture.  
  • It’s great for mental health. Often after a work-out, you will feel a rush of endorphins from exercise as well as a sense of accomplishment for doing something productive. Would highly recommend.
  • Exercise is one of the natural ways to reduce symptoms of dementia. It helps prevent strokes and other medical complications that can cause cognitive impairment, as well as controlling (and reducing) chronic disease symptoms 

Some helpful tips for exercise 

Sport is very good for us, but it’s hard to get started and it’s even harder to keep up the habit! Here are some simple bits of advice to make being healthy simpler and that little bit easier on all of us.  

  • Start slow and use the first 5 minutes of exercise to warm up the joints and get the body ready for something more strenuous.
  • Do exercise in the morning or afternoon. Establish exercise as a habit and embed it in your routine. This will help you keep it up for the long term.
  • Make your exercise more social and do exercises in groups. This can mean walking with a group of friends (after COVID restrictions are lifted of course), digitally connecting during Pilates or signing up to an exercise class.  
  • Sit in a comfy chair. It sounds counterproductive to sit down when exercising, but this can be very beneficial to those who struggle doing exercise standing and keep balance. Sitting down will help you remain upright while you build up a sweat. This is very useful for elderly Australians who might not feel as confident standing. 

(Finally!) The exercises themselves 

It is important to remember to stop exercising at the first sign of pain. Do not push yourself if you are experiencing sensations of dizziness, feelings of nausea, or if you are seeing spots. Do not push yourself and consult your doctor if you are recovering from any injuries or illnesses.  

Those who are 65+ with no medical or health issues are recommended by Health Direct to exercise regularly, even daily

  1. Stretching. According to Active Health, stretching helps develop better flexibility to keep falls and muscle pains at bay. They also list a bunch of exercises that you can do to keep those joints loose. 
  1. Tai Chi. This is a very popular exercise with older age groups, and for good reason. It builds strength, flexibility and balance. It is also great for improving your mood and acts as a sort of physical meditation. Best of all? Tai Chi’s popularity means that there are many community groups available who run classes and online videos that you can join.  
  1. Walking. Light walking is commonly recommended for older Australians who want to exercise as an easy cardio exercise that anyone can do. If you want, this can be arranged to be done in groups or by yourself. We suggest you walk on flat ground with smooth paths and on trails that have a great view to get the best out of your workout.  
  1. Video games, Wii. If you still have a Wii console, grab that thing out of the closet and dust it off. Video games like the Nintendo Wii that involve big gestures and movement are a fun way to engage spatial awareness and involve a great deal of physical movement. This is something that can be done with the grandchildren as well, making it a fun social event. The University of Montreal also found that video games have other benefits for seniors, including simulating parts of the brain that deal with reactions time and spatial awareness.
  1. Chair routines. This is convenient for those who have trouble standing or are recovering from an injury or illness. Many exercise companies are offering up chair exercise programs like silent discos that can be done in the safety and convenience of your own home. 
  1. Yoga. Like stretching but with a calming effect on the mind and soul. Yoga is good for older Australian’s because it involves flexibility and strength.
  1. Lightweight training. This is good for those with some light weights lying around the house. As we get older, we start to lose some muscle fibre. So, using light weights can help maintain our muscle and help increase our strength and endurance.   
  1. Dancing. Good for those with music in them or even those with two left feet. Dancing involves coordination, rhythm and spirit so it’s great exercise. One study found that dancing has the same results as walking, stretching and toning in those aged 60-79 years old. There are different styles for anyone to enjoy, so pick your favourite from a gentle waltz to energic Zumba classes. 10 minutes of dancing at regular intervals are recommended to get the best out of this exercise.  
  1. Water Aerobics and aqua jogging. Water sports are great for getting the heart rate up without putting a strain on the body.  Water’s buoyancy takes the pressure off joints and also acts as a form of resistance to make you work! Water aerobics is often offered in local classes for older Australians, but if a group activity just doesn’t sound like you then consider aqua-jogging. While it may have a funny name, aqua-jogging is simply jogging or water up and down a pool. Simple but a lot more strenuous than it sounds. This is perfect if you have your own pool! 
  1. Stability ball training. Perfect for developing and maintaining core strength and balance. Open Fit states that stable joints are less prone to injury and falls, and stability ball training can train every part of your body. There are plenty of online tutorials and classes on using these balls that can be done in the convenience of your own home.  
  1. Golf.  First things first. This is golf without using a cart; the walk is half the journey here! We are aiming to get a decent cardio work out. Golf is perfect for those wanting to walk, but they want a little more purpose to their exercise. Not only are you walking to find that pesky little white golf ball, but you get to reward yourself at the end with a cool drink at the golf club. Currently, golf is not an option with COVID-19 restrictions. However, as we ease out of this time, golf serves as a nice way to get back into social activities and connect with others while remaining active.  

If you want some more information, the Australian Government Department of Health has some excellent tips for Australians (65 years and older) here.