Prema (Susan) Roberts
I first came into contact with Byron Aged Care over 5 years ago when a dear friend of mine was there in residence. I was amazed to discover this little gem of a place quietly tucked away in the hurly-burly of Byron, a little sanctuary in an otherwise busy town that reminded me of the best of an English seaside boarding-house but in a sub-tropical setting. In a world which worships homogeneity of the most mediocre type, here was something quite unique, even “quaint” in a delightful sense. What a surprise! What a treat!
Here, in this modest, decidedly old-fashioned setting, staff quietly went about their work, caring for their clients with dignity, friendliness and compassion. They chatted amongst each other a bit when time permitted, and it was obvious to me that they genuinely liked each other. How amazing, and how refreshing in today’s too often impersonal and heartless workplace!
Five years further down the track and now my 90 year old mother is in Byron Aged Care. I brought her up here from Melbourne specifically to escape the cold, glitzy state-of-the-art ‘resorts’ that too often and all the more frequently now, pass for ” homes” for the elderly. Where everything is gleaming high-tech, replete with sumptuous bar & lounge –a great impressive, superficial ‘show’, usually near-empty — where, behind the facade, away from the public eye, lie the residents’ rooms, isolated little ‘space-pods’. Very chilling, and all so obviously driven by the company and shareholders’ concern for the Almighty Dollar.
Byron Aged Care in 2013 is even more impressive than it was when I first encountered it. The charming little courtyard gardens where residents can sit, chat, read or doze are still there, their rooms facing in to these whilst also backing on to the larger world outside (thus, they enjoy supreme privacy while also retaining contact with the broader world), but the indoor recreation area has expanded and resembles the hominess and comfort of someone’s personal residence. And indeed, it is precisely this cosiness that marks BAC as decidedly special. The CEO and her splendid team have created not just a facility but a genuine home where residents, staff, volunteers, relatives of residents and visitors are all welcomed as community, as family. Everyone here is part of a dedicated, hard-working team, where staff put in that extra effort to support firstly the residents and then each other. The CEO is accessible to all, attentive to the needs of her team, genuinely interested in people, a wonderful role-model in both deeds and her consistent, quiet, unobtrusive humility.
In 2013, I feel honoured to be part of such an establishment that has retained such old-fashioned values. I know my mother’s needs are taken care of, now, and will be in the future as her condition becomes more fragile. In a very real sense, her carers are her friends. And they are my friends too.
Thank you, Byron Aged Care. You are the “Quiet Achiever” in a world that is all too frequently self-congratulatory. Well-done. Very well-done indeed.