My mum, Eileen, considered herself very lucky to spend her last three years her at Byron Aged Care.
When she decided to move to Byron to be close to me we decided to spent time at all the local nursing homes. We spent a couple of hours at Byron Aged Care to have a meal and check out the food, the CEO and the staff. It all seemed very good so Eileen moved in willingly. We liked it because management and staff were friendly, it was centrally located, the food tasty and had a happy atmosphere.
It took over a year to sell her home in Brisbane and so it took over a year to pay her bond to Byron Aged Care. This was never a problem and rarely discussed until Eileen sold her Unit in Brisbane.
Like many people my mum had led a very full life, had many interests, many passions and dislikes. I thought her dislikes might be a problem. But the staff got to know her quickly and picked up on what she liked and didn’t like, knew what performers she didn’t want to visit in the Recreation Room (country and western music!). The staff were interested and engaged with her and everyone else. She was articulate so she was put at a table with other lively people.
She took the first available room which she didn’t like particularly. But she added and subtracted furniture to the room so by the time another, bigger room became available she was very happy and didn’t want to move.
All the food is cooked on-site by great chefs/cooks. As mum said “No one goes hungry here – the food is too good.”
I’ve visited Eileen most days for 3 years but over the last 6 months she wasn’t able to walk. So being so close to Main Beach I could pop her into a wheelchair and take her to the beach where she enjoyed eating a slice of pizza and watching the waves, the surfers and the pizza-edge hungry birds.
I often took her to the theatre in Byron, Mullumbimby and Brisbane. Easy, because the staff were always great about having her ready in nice clothes so I didn’t have to spend a lot of time getting her ready before going out. As she increasingly became incontinent I would be given a spare nappy. But the staff would put her in a watertight one so I rarely had to do the change.
What would I say about Byron Aged Care? I think that it is wonderful, staffed with typical Byron people. You couldn’t find a more caring thoughtful considerate yet hard working group of people who never let the requirement to get on with a full day’s work without a friendly joke, comment or conversation with my mum and the other residents.
Some of the events at Byron Aged Care bring tears to your eyes. The annual Christmas eve event where many individual singers and groups of musicians come in and sing Christmas carols. Both my mum and I, both confirmed atheists, got as much joy out of singing the carols as the most ardent Christians because there was such a strong sense of generosity and community. Last Christmas was a beauty. It bucketed down raining and I expected a poor turn out from relatives, friends and staff. But the large recreation room was absolutely packed with an amazing line up of classical instrument players, accordion players, popular and opera singers followed by a fabulous supper. A truly special night as good as any I have spent in this wonderful Shire.
I could name many individual staff members whose company my mum enjoyed but it would be wrong to do so because all of the stuff are just magnificent and everyone has different favourites.
Previously my mum had resided at an aged care facility in Brisbane and her husband, my dad, at another on the northern end of the Gold Coast.
Neither were satisfactory. The one my mum was in was physically pleasant, but many of the staff though nice we’re too rushed off their feet to become friends or get close to the residents. The food was ok. Entertainment was the TV set.
My dad’s experience was similar but the food dreadful. I tried it and it was tasteless. I asked a staffer why? She explained since all the meals were prepared externally and some people are allergic to salt they used a catering company. And it was cheaper for them not to include salt and let residents add salt if they wanted it. Again work demands meant staff who didn’t have time to give any real quality time with individuals. Residents seemed to be put into two classes: easy to deal with or problematic. My dad was easy so that the staff were too busy to get to know him really well.
I regret I had not discovered BAC moved my dad to Byron and while he was still alive.