Twilight Providing Jamieson House to Women’s Shelter

Jamieson House Twilight (now referred to as Beecroft House) before its renovations.

Twilight Aged Care is participating in a local initiative to temporarily repurpose Jamieson House Twilight as a home for displaced women over 55.

The Beecroft House: Housing Partnership Project will provide financial and residential support to the homeless, and give 20 women housing accommodation for the next 2 years. The project will convert Jamieson into a safe and welcoming space and give the building a new name, ‘Beecroft House’. The initiative aims to enhance the lives of these women and give them independence through housing pathways and support services.

The Beecroft House: Housing Partnership Project is the collaboration of the Hornsby council and over 6 organisations in North Sydney area, including the Women’s Shelter, Twilight Aged Care and Link Housing. The majority of these companies, including Twilight, are offering services to the Women’s Shelter project free of charge, including the lease for the building itself.

Twilight Aged Care contacted the Hornsby Ku Ring-Gai Women’s Shelter and offered two year access to the building rent free. Neil Wendt, the CEO of Twilight, said

“Twilight was founded 100 years ago to support women that required assistance. This wonderful initiative goes to the roots of the company’s values”.

This spirit of charity is shared by organisations like The Generous and the Grateful, who have donated the furniture for the building. The organisation works alongside 5 star hotels undergoing refurbishment, and saved any ‘outdated’ furniture for the women’s shelter. The National Projects and Maintenance group, are also providing their services and 40 workers to renovate Beecroft House for free.

mage from Beecroft House. At the Beecroft House: Housing Partnering evening

Maraget Maljkovic, Chief Operating Officer at Link Housing, spoke about the great need for affordable housing at Beecroft House‘s community information afternoon. Maljkovic said the housing partnership is especially important for older women in the Sydney area where living prices are high. In this way, Beecroft House will provide opportunities for women to get back on their feet in times of financial or personal crisis.

The project aims to work closely with local people and businesses. The Women’s Community Shelter has set up a Facebook page for people to see the construction progress. The page offers opportunities for the community to help out the home with activities such as gardening, painting and cleaning.

The gardens of Jamieson House (now referred to as Beecroft House).

Beecroft House is hosting an Open Day on Friday 9th August with free tours of the home, to mark the beginning of the project for interested members of the community. For more information, click here.


15 Benefits of Volunteering

With busy lives, it can be hard to find time to volunteer. However, the benefits of volunteering are enormous to you, your family, and the community. For some volunteers it offers the chance to give something back to the community or make a difference to the people around them. For others it provides an opportunity to develop new skills or build on existing experience and knowledge.

Here are 15 benefits of volunteering.

1. Lowers stress and anxiety

Volunteering is said to be a great way to deal with stress and anxiety that affect so many. Vice says that this is mainly to do with busyness being a great distraction and barrier to negative thoughts and feelings. Volunteering also hold opportunity for plentiful social contact which can put people in a good mood.

2. Supporting those who need it

Those who volunteer help the community as a whole. You are working in the areas that need it most for the people who need it most. Time spent supporting not-for-profit organisations and services is often desperately wanted, and this sense of value from your work will be felt not by yourself but those around you in the larger neighbourhood.

3. Learning relevant skills

There are a tonne of skills associated with volunteer work that will be beneficial for both work and life opportunities. Seek has stated that volunteers are known to have essential (and industry recognised) skills, like the ability to work well in a group environment, problem solve, lead groups, work under pressure and time management. This is also complimented by more niche talents that some training programs include, like first aid, organisational management, and IT know-how. All this builds to create a comprehensive skill set that is useful for anyone is almost any situation!

4. Increases confidence

Volunteering in general will give you a sense of self-worth and pride in your everyday life. Doing good work for good people installs pride and will make you feel good about yourself and what you are doing.

Volunteering also often involves taking on extra responsibility and tasks – which will build your confidence in managing multiple projects. You will trust yourself more and develop yours skills in difference and sometimes challenging environments.

5. Making new friends

Volunteering is not only something to do with a friend, but a way of making friends, no matter your age.

It is a great way to introduce yourself to new social circles and make new connections. Helpguide.org describes it as a way of actively meeting and introducing yourself to other people. There is a likemindedness in individuals supporting not-for-profit organisations and often you will find similar passions in the volunteers around you. Despite the variety of backgrounds and personalities of volunteers, they are almost guaranteed to be incredibly kind and looking to make friends during the volunteering process.

6. Gain a physically active lifestyle

With such a focus on health these days, it’s a surprise that volunteering is not being promoted as an excellent source of wellbeing.

Live Science says that volunteers have been found to live longer and have generally healthier lives. This is because they walk more on average and carry out more physical chores. However, even those who work in less active roles receive this health boost, by developing a higher degree of mental flexibility in their ability to handle multiple complex operations.

Volunteering can give you a sense of purpose and productivity

7. Brings a sense of purpose

This is perfect for those looking to have more meaning in their lives. It is an easy way to do good in your spare time, and make a different to those around you while also adding a sense of direction to your life.

8. Good for the resume

Volunteering is the perfect way to make your resume stand out for a potential employer at any stage of your career journey. It is a great way of showing that you have a good sense of character, compassion and actively work in a team.

According to ENHANCV, 82% of hiring professionals prefer applicants with volunteer experience. It means that the applicant is driven by social god and that they have more skills than simple, task related ones.

9. Gain new experiences

Volunteering allows you to meet people and do things that you would been exposed to be. Volunteering lets you hear fascinating life stories, work with enthusiastic and passionate people and shape people’s lives for good.

These new experiences allow you to witness the lives of others and can be powerful memories that shift your perspectives of life.

10. Embracing passions

Volunteers are able to bring their unique talents and interests to other people’s lives. Organisations, like us at Twilight, have had great success from volunteers indulging in interests like art and gardening and engaging residents in these activities.

11. Fosters community growth

It has been found that communities with a strong volunteer network help community growth. Since volunteers literally help the community by filling in the gaps in funding and resources. NSW Volunteering has stated its benefits in promoting overall health in the local area, saying that volunteers “make an extraordinary contribution to Australian society” and are the “lifeblood of our community.”

12. Builds social skills

Communications skills are a necessity in our modern day. And volunteering is not only good to make friends and also have fun, but can help you later in industry work and everyday life.

Diverse Voices, says that volunteering is the perfect setting to practice ad develop social skills, not matter if you are an extrovert or an introvert.

13. Growing your reference network

A reference from a not-for-profit organisation can speak more about your character than a family member or an old employer.

Volunteering also generates good word about you within the community and with specific businesses while connecting you with industry personalities.

Volunteering is a perfect opportunity to bring care and compassion to people’s lives.

14. Creates internship and employment opportunities

Volunteering can builds skills, as well as placing you in an environment that may lead to career opportunities.

Monster says that volunteering is a perfect stepping stone to employment and will add professional experience to your resume.

15. Makes you happier

If you have ever volunteered, you may have noticed that you felt fantastic afterward. Maybe you saw a little boost in your mood, or enjoyed being part of a team.

It is the perfect way to escape from the routine of retirement, work, university or school and accomplishment so much than you could alone.


How to Volunteer?

Twilight has revitalised its volunteer program which includes a comprehensive orientation, training and handbook. Each of the homes is fortunate to have several volunteers and we are always happy to welcome new members into our community.  If you are interested in volunteering with Twilight Aged Care please contact our Volunteer Coordinator on 02 9414 4400 or email: volunteer@twilight.org.au[/vc_column_text]

Winter knitting donation for women’s shelter

Eleven blankets, 8 pairs of socks, 5 large teddies, 3 small teddies, 3 patch-work bedspreads, 2 scarves, 2 beanies, and one pair of gloves. These were just some of the items donated by Twilight to the Hornsby Ku Ring-Gai Women’s Shelter last Wednesday.

Anne Sheehan from the Women’s Shelter, and ladies of Horton House, Sheila and Jeanette, handing over their knitting donations.

Those living at both Twilight’s Horton House and Glades Bay Gardens had been busy knitting over the past months. This large collection of woollen clothes, blankets and toys was officially handed over at a morning tea at Horton House.

Anne Sheehan, a representative from the women’s shelter, thanked the ladies of Horton House for their “kindness and generosity”. She spoke of how the Hornsby Ku Ring-Gai shelter relies on donations from the community. The organisation currently supports over 450 women going through periods of homelessness due to domestic violence and poverty. These large numbers mean that there is a ‘huge need’ for donation and support.

Sheehan also says that she is ‘excited’ about Twilight’s converting Jamison House into a transitional home for women over 55 years old. Twilight is leasing the building for 2 years during its renovations as a source of accommodation and support programs for women in need.

The program will highlight the origins of Twilight itself, to support older, financially vulnerable women. Twilight was established as a social initiative in 1914, led by the Lady Mayoress, Miss Florence Clarke. As Sheehan says, Twilight is “going back to its roots and helping the gentle women in poverty”. The project will continue Twilight’s traditions and support the women who need it today.

Sheila pictured here at Horton House, thanking other residents for their contributions to the knitting donations.

Sheila, one of the residents at Horton House, was the ‘task master’ behind the project, and has been knitting since she was a young girl. She says that this is a wonderful opportunity to use her passions to give back. Sheila made sure to thank the other residents who knitted, especially, Jeanette and her daughter Margot, who donated a large amount of wool to the home to ensure that the project could continue.

As the Australian winter season comes into full swing, the residents of Twilight are determined to continue the program, and produce more blankets and clothes for the women.

MP for North Sydney Celebrates International Nurses Day At Hunters Hill Village

Hon Trent Zimmerman greeting the Hunters Hill Village residents at the High Tea event

Last Friday, Trent Zimmerman, the Federal Member for North Sydney, made an appearance at Hunter’s Hill Village to commemorate the work of nurses all around the world. The event was held in honour of International Nurses Day, celebrating the work of nurses and the aged care home’s staff with guest speakers and a high tea for those visiting.

Mr Zimmerman, who was invited to give a speech on the day, said a few words on the selfless work of the nurses. Afterwards, he was given an oil painting by one of the home’s residents to thank him for his appearance on the day and his kind words.

The Hunter’s Hill Village staff had reached out to Zimmerman after the federal election. The residents of the home had almost unanimously voted for Zimmerman and they were overjoyed when he was elected their member for North Sydney. The staff then contacted his office was then contacted by the staff and invited him to the Hunter’s Hill High Tea event, where the residents were delighted he was able to attend.

Sadhna Shah, our Reactional Activities Officer at Hunters Hill Village, says the day was important to “celebrate International Nurses Day and to say thank you to all the staff for the wonderful work they are doing.”

Paul Laing, whose father is a resident, was invited as a guest speaker. He said a few touching words about the service of nurses, and how much they contribute to the lives of families. Paul thanked the Hunter’s Hill Staff for the way they cared for his own his father.

The event was beautifully curated by Chandrika Herath who made the food by hand.

Neil Wendt, Twilight CEO, made a speech about the importance of nurses and care on International Nurses Day. Also pictured Geraldine Tattersall the operations manager for Twilight, MP Trent Zimmerman, Twilight Patron John Laurie, and guest speakers Christine and Paul Laing.

Twilight Patron, John Laurie, and CEO, Neil Wendt, also attended the event and awarded Mr Zimmerman a copy of the Twilight House’s history book, An Australian Story.

Gordon virtual discovery experience is leading aged care into the future

View of Horton House courtyard in the virtual layout. Image courtesy of Virtacom.

A 360° digital scan is being made for our Gordon based home, Horton House. The residential home will have its entire layout recorded, including bathrooms, gardens and even inside its cupboards. The virtual discovery experience aims to bring Horton House into the future and allow people to explore the home at any time or pace on their laptop or phone.

According to the home’s Facility Manager, Star Dang, it will “pioneer age care homes, not only in how tours are delivered but how people are able to interact with their potential homes.” Star says that the virtual discovery experience will create greater convenience for those looking at homes and also close the distance for families far away.

The program, built by Virtacom and funded by HSL, and will be more than a simple Google maps navigation. Their goal is to create an interactive experience.

The virtual discovery program will offer basic features like walk throughs, as well as extra details like opening cupboards to see storage space, moving seats to look at safety features, and additional information tags. 

These small touches make a big difference in building trust, says Virtacom director, Jason Swaffield. The added layers of features empowers individuals to inspect buildings and interact with the environment. It all comes down to Jason’s philosophy of allowing people to ‘go there before they go there’.

Jason had previously work for 5 years in health care and he says experiencing places digitally means that people get to observe the safety features and build genuine trust.

For Janna Blok, a resident at Horton House, the digital scheme will be a way to connect with her family. Janna’s son lives in Kempsey and her daughter in New Zealand, meaning that visiting Gordon is often difficult.

On the day Virtacom came in to perform the scan, Janna commented that it was a ‘lovely idea’, and will be a way for her children to ‘check in’ and see where she lives. 

Horton House lounge. Image courtesy of Virtacom.

The digital rendering of Horton House should be available by the end of April. The home is the first aged care facility from Twilight to receive a virtual discovery experience and CEO Neil Wendt is hoping to extend the initiative to more homes very soon.

Re-uniting the community in intergenerational project

Some of the craft projects the participants made!

A six month local research project started in Glades Bay Gardens last Thursday. It aimed to connect the wisest and youngest generations of North Sydney.

The program involved The Children’s House of Montessori in East Ryde and residents of Twilight Aged Care. The initiative was designed to bridge the social gap between the old and young.

Intergenerational programs bring diverse groups together and unite communities by building relationships and sharing knowledge. This specific project focuses on the benefits of an Intergenerational program using Montessori principles within an aged care setting. It pairs up seniors and children for creative activities to open conversation and learn new skills together.

Pam and her partner

Denise Underwood, the principal of The Children’s House of Montessori, said that the program gives the children experience outside of an excursion format and allows them to genuinely interact with the community.

A report from Generations United described the far-reaching benefits of these programs in their studies in America. Their research showed how engagement of the children and seniors benefits communities as a whole.

Intergenerational Programs are able to unite diverse groups of people and build social understanding. They provide role models and positive interactions while breaking down negative, generational stereotypes.

The children visiting delighted everyone living at Twilight. They loved the energy that they brought to the day. Dorothy, a resident at Glades Bay Gardens, said that the children were “absolutely wonderful”.

 Interacting with children encourages those older to be more active and cognitively alert; improving heart rate and mental health. 

Julianne Walker, the volunteer and project coordinator behind the enterprise, was excited about the project. She said that the program has just began, but response from the children and those at Twilight are overwhelmingly positive. The program has 1-2 hours of group interaction per week with a different theme, until its conclusion in mid-September. She looks forward to seeing how the program and relationships will evolve in the coming months.

The Montessori children in front of the Glades Bay Gardens home

4 Women, 61 Years of Service

We were very happy to see so many members of our Hunters Hill Village team be awarded their 10 years of service badge!

From left to right: Yvette Fonseca, Elizabeth Sikimeti, Gladys Maseko (the Facility Manager of Hunters Hill Village), Iwona Taborek and Chandrika Herath.

Combined, these amazing women have given a life-time of care- 61 years:

  • Yvette Fonseca (Cook, 12 years at Twilight)
  • Elizabeth Sikimeti (PCA, 11 years at Twilight)
  • Iwona Taborek (PCA, 20 years at Twilight)
  • Chandrika Herath (Cook/RAO, 18 years at Twilight)

The 10 year service badge is a new initiative of the Twilight Aged Care Board. They wanted to acknowledge the exceptional work of those who has been with Twilight for over a decade.

This is an incredible achievement, and we want to thank all of them for their decade(s!) of compassion!

Diagnosing Dementia. When to get help and what to expect

A dementia diagnosis can be game changing.

A diagnosis can give answers for strange new behaviours. It can allow families to receive practical information, advice and guidance. It opens up doorways for treatment and care, and sometimes even reverse effects.

Importantly, it can help you prepare for the future, both financially and socially.

A professional medical diagnosis informs you of the type of dementia, which can be vital in deciding treatment and planning.

However, questions of when you should seek out a diagnosis, how to do so, and what to expect often stop people from getting the help they need.

Many times people dismiss the symptoms of dementia by thinking its a part of getting older, or that they are not yet severe enough.

1. KNOWING WHEN TO GET HELP

It’s time to break down the first misconception.

Dementia and Alzheimer’s – while linked to ageing- should not be confused as ageing. Those with dementia are often mistakenly called ‘senile’, but mental decline is not a normal part of the ageing process,

Actual markers of oncoming dementia are things that impact and inhibit everyday life. Trouble with planning, finding objects, remembering upcoming events and appointments, having trouble when travelling to new areas are all signs of cognitive decline.

If you or a loved one are displaying early symptoms of dementia then you should seek help.

Alzhiemers Dementia Australia listed the 10 early signs of Alzheimer’s. This is a useful checklist for a basic examination.

A good way to self-assess is a Standard Mini-Mental State Exam (SMMSE). This is a simple test that you can find online and will only take around 10 minutes to complete. It is one of the most popular tests for cognitive function and can be easily completed with the help of a friend.

However, dementia is progressive and can get worse in a small space of time. This is especially true if there is a history or risk of heart attacks, strokes or excess of drinking and smoking.

A self-evaluation or a SMMSE is not a substitute for a professional diagnostic workup.

2. SEEKING HELP

Luckily, when it comes to diagnosing and receiving support for dementia and Alzheimer’s, there is plenty of help available.

Agencies like Dementia Australia, Alzheimer’s Association Australia, Dementia Support Australia and services like the National Dementia Helpline can give you information and assistance.

There are also open days and seminars across the country informing people of the disease. These days help families understand how their lives will be impacted and how they can adapt.

However, when it comes to diagnosis – a medical professional is best.

Your doctor or GP should be able to judge your concerns with a preliminary assessment.

The process could simply be part of a pre-booked check-up, or as an appointment on its own. It is important to tell your doctor any specific worries you have to better inform them of the situation, as well as for your own peace of mind. It is also good to use someone who you are familiar with and knows you.

You may be transferred to an outside specialist. This will normally be a:

  • Geriatrician: specialises in the health issues that affect seniors
  • Neurologist: specialises in the brain and nerves
  • Psychiatrist: specialises in emotional health and behaviours of people

They will be able to provide a more accurate and detailed health assessment than a preliminary test.

3. HOW TO BE PREPARED

Going to the doctor to get any diagnosis is always stressful. However, knowing what to expect can help make this a little less nerve racking.

Normally assessments will involve three parts, 1) a look into personal and medical history, 2) a physical and scientific examination, and 3) a cognitive test.

It is a good idea to bring along close friends or family along to the appointment to help provide accurate information and more specific details.

An effective way to illustrate the extent of your memory concerns is to start a list. Write down moments you or your loved one were confused or forgot something they should not have. These lists can help drive questions for the GP or the specialist later on.

1. Personal and medical history:

When looking into the personal and medical history of the person.

Since dementia is genetic – the likelihood of developing it later on much higher if a family member already has it. During an appointment there is usually a discussion of family health so it’s a good idea to get a grasp of the local family tree before heading in.

Medical history is also a very important factor. As mentioned early, the chances of developing dementia increase dramatically if there is any prior heart attacks, strokes or drinking and smoking.

Any current medication may also be having side effects that appear as symptoms of dementia, so an overlook will determine whether it is affecting behaviour.

2. Physical and scientific examination:

Dementia symptoms can frequently be explained by other issues,  like sleeplessness, sickness, or stress. The tests might also require a blood or urine sample to help rule out any of the following:

  • Anaemia
  • Infection
  • Electrolyte balance (salt and water) 
  • Liver function
  • Vitamin B12 deficiency
  • Thyroid function
  • Drug interactions and dosing problems

3. Cognitive tests:

Finally, a cognitive test will evaluate mental functions. This can be memory and spatial judgement, concentrations and problem solving. The details of the tests depend on whether you are visiting a specialist.

Cognitive tests determine what type of dementia might be present and help in making any medical recommendations.