05 October 2022

Carer's Week 2022 story with John and Margarete

John and Margarete have been married for over 50 years and have never spent a night apart, so making the decision to put John in respite was a very difficult one. Margarete has been looking after John now as his carer for many years as he has asbestosis and is unfortunately now palliative, so she sees his care as totally her responsibility.

But when Margarete’s painful hip got to be too much for her, she needed to go into hospital to have a total hip replacement and after many discussions, they decided together that it would be best for John to go into respite whilst she was in hospital and recovering. The palliative care team who have been looking after John suggested a couple of places to look at, but they were not happy. Frustrated, they began looking themselves, and found Estia Health at Dandenong.

From the moment they contacted the home, they immediately felt comfortable. Initially, they were both relieved and impressed with the covid protocol at the front door, where no one was allowed in, including staff, until they had performed a RAT test. So, they immediately felt more secure. From there, John was offered a wheelchair to make getting around easier for him which he appreciated and then they were both given a tour of the home, including visiting all of the available respite rooms. Margarete admits that she felt very emotional, and that despite how kind Jenny was, she was still worried. She could see that John was concerned about her going into hospital and they didn’t want to leave each other.

Her fears were all put to bed though when John checked in. He immediately let Margarete know that the staff were wonderful and made him feel so welcome. He gave her daily phone updates about how fantastic the meals were and that the staff were incredibly caring. They checked on him regularly making sure that he was getting everything that he needed. One day he managed to knock his leg on the foot stand of his wheelchair. He didn’t tell anyone about it, but he was seen by a Registered Nurse to be dabbing blood on his leg when she checked on him. She immediately checked him out and dressed his leg. Margarete then got a call from the Executive Director letting her know that John had a small mishap and that they were treating him and dressing his wound daily. She was really pleased to know that and felt instantly that he was in great hands and knew she could trust the staff.

Having an intellectually disabled son who is also in care, communication is often John and Margarete’s biggest problem with where he lives. Yet she was able to mention to John that she knew about his sore leg before he even told her himself and he was astounded.

Because Margarete could only call John and not visit him, the staff went to great lengths to make John feel at home. Staff who were not even on duty the day he was due to leave came in to say goodbye to him on the day he left, and many made a point of saying goodbye to him and telling him that he was a joy to have in the home. Both Margarete and John now feel that it is a very viable and happy place for John to go if the need arises again.

Margarete wanted to emphasize how important she felt it was to go and have a look first. “Looking first was vital, you really need to get a feel for the place, we could instantly tell the staff were friendly, kind and accommodating. We felt right at home immediately, and although that first visit was hard, we knew we were doing the right thing”. “Thank you so much Estia Health for helping us, I felt so much better when John came home because he felt so looked after and cared for”.