Carol's brother Peter

Carol’s eldest brother, Peter, spent the final 2 years of his life, in his early 70’s, residing in a local aged care facility in Tasmania. She believes the care he received was extraordinary, here is her story…

Peter had a dense stroke and was paralysed fully on one side of his body. He spent months in hospital and in physical rehab but he was unable to transition from one place to another independently and admission into a care facility was recommended and encouraged. It was a necessity, Carol says, because we couldn’t physically manage his needs and he needed 24/7 assistance.

From the moment he was transferred from hospital rehab into aged care he was met with welcoming, accepting and compassionate souls. His fortune in receiving care that was commensurate with his needs and interests meant his life was fulfilling even though there were physical challenges.

His wife arranged his care and would visit regularly to spend time with him. That meant that the staff were privy to his relationship and understood how important they were for each other. When she became very ill and was admitted to hospital, Carol was able to assist Peter in visiting his wife. It was a traumatic time for him because she was in deep physical pain and unable to communicate, he realised this would be their final moments together, which was wholly unexpected and personally devastating. Carol remembers returning to Peter’s home in aged care and all the staff rallying around him in support of his loss. Carol was genuinely overwhelmed by the layers of warmth and compassion he drew from staff who behaved more like his closest friends.

One of the carers had direct family experience with a stroke victim and she applied her learnings to take care of Peter so he could enjoy his local community with personal dignity. According to Carol he was the President of the RSL club and played an important role with Legacy too, so people knew him and when he would venture to shops independently on his scooter he was obliged by everybody. Cafes knew his order by heart.

Peter was a home-cook himself and so he didn’t particularly enjoy the food he had where he lived however, he thought that was a small compromise to pay for being looked after so well. He genuinely wanted to convey how happy and grateful he was being surrounded by kind and generous souls. The home itself holds group memorial services for ex-residents so that the staff can also remember and grieve people with which they shared caring relationships.

Carol felt it was important to share this positive care experience so that elderly people don’t feel scared or shafted by society. She understands that the aged care sector is completely understaffed and there is definitely room for improvement however, she also believes that the majority of people are kind and charitable and act accordingly, especially when given the right support.

- Carol's memory of her brother Peter, as told to Nat Power

We believe in the power of stories to illuminate and educate. Through sharing our experiences of getting older and caring for those around us, we can help each other navigate the challenges we will all face at some stage in our lives.

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Main Image: Annie Spratt

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