Carinity supporting the power of personal choice

Independence and a sense of individuality is important regardless of our age. One common concern about moving into aged care is a loss of independence and personal choice.

At Carinity, we work hard to ease these concerns through our focus on getting to know each individual in our care.

For Mary Jane Cormack’s mother, Pat Bickersteth, a loss of her independence had been a big concern for the family.

 Mary Jane Cormack and her mother Pat Bickersteth at the Carinity Brookfield Green aged care community in Brisbane
Mary Jane Cormack and her mother Pat Bickersteth at the Carinity Brookfield Green aged care community in Brisbane.

Pat, 94, had been living at home alone with support from Mary Jane, family, friends and carers. However, a hospitalisation and declining health meant Pat was unable to return home.

The family was concerned how Pat would transition into care, having lived in her own home for such a long time.

Mary Jane and her family were privileged to have a wide choice of aged care communities within their local area, but the decision was made easier for them when they saw the focus Brookfield Green placed on their mum’s transition.

“From the moment I made contact, Brookfield Green was the stand-out. It was such an easy, smooth process and a lot of thought and attention was given to how my mum was going to adapt and how we could make her more comfortable.”

Brookfield Green’s Residential Manager, Mark Lister, invited Mary Jane and her family to set up Pat’s room prior to her arrival with her own pictures, décor and soft furnishings.

Across all Carinity communities, this is an important step in helping residents adjust and feel at home.

Supporting each resident’s own experience is an important part of our care philosophy. Larissa Gear, Regional Residential Manager, explains.

“Every person who comes into our care is unique, and has their own experiences, preferences and lifestyle that they’ve been used to living. This is their home now, so we focus on finding ways they can maintain a sense of control over their lives.

“Even simple things like deciding when to eat can have a big impact on their sense of autonomy and independence. It’s important to respect everyone’s individual wishes, and we do everything we can to accommodate these where possible.”

Carinity Regional Residential Manager, Larissa Gear, with Carinity Hilltop resident Joan Hunder
Carinity Regional Residential Manager, Larissa Gear (left), says supporting each resident’s own experience is an important part of Carinity’s care philosophy.

This focus on supporting individual preferences stood out to Mary Jane when her mother moved into Brookfield Green. When Pat and Mary Jane arrived to settle in on the first day, it was the little things that stood out.

“Some of the questions that they asked were ‘what would you like for breakfast? Do you like breakfast in bed or would you like to come in to the dining room? What time do you actually like getting up?’

“They also made it clear that she was free to change her mind in the morning if she felt differently,” Mary Jane said. “Arriving and having a sense that choice was easy and the staff were comfortable with it was a real bonus.”

For Mary Jane, having her mum recognised as an individual and offered choices and control provided a sense of comfort that continues today.

“Mum’s health isn’t in a position where she’s always able to make decisions about her daily care, (but her choice) is not assumed. I don’t hear the staff assuming that she doesn’t make decisions.

“They will always ask her. It’s a very lovely way of approaching things, because I might have assumed what she would want, but they will always ask her. It’s always her choice.”

Across Carinity’s communities, our care and lifestyle teams are focused on enabling residents to live with as much independence as possible. Depending on their individual circumstances, this might involve encouraging residents to remain active and socialise or managing aspects of their own personal care.

Regardless of what choice looks like for them, the core value of getting to know each resident as an individual is what has a lasting impact. For Mary Jane and Pat’s family, this has been evident in the care at Brookfield Green.

“I pop in at all sorts of hours and I get to hear the staff chatting. Whenever I ask how she is, they always tell me, ‘I sat with her just now having a cup of tea’, and they often tell me things they’ve chatted to her about,” Mary Jane said.

“It gives me a level of comfort they actually really know who she is. They know some of her idiosyncrasies, she’s not just a bed number at all, the staff absolutely know her. The level of care has been superb.”

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