Anh and her husband, Van, have always lived life to the full.
After migrating to Australia from Vietnam over 30 years ago, the pair were quick to find their feet and build an independent life for themselves in the south-western suburbs of Sydney. Van enjoyed retirement after working as a doctor in Vietnam while Anh, whose native tongue is Vietnamese, taught herself English by reading the subtitles on SBS TV shows. Together they also helped their three children raise their own families, and enjoyed time with their seven grandchildren.
But in 2002, the couple’s circumstances changed significantly. Ninety-three-year old Van underwent a bowel operation to treat colon cancer, which left him unable to live independently. Anh was in and out of hospital and eventually diagnosed with atrial fibrillation: a condition which greatly impacted her health. She also had an operation on her left hand, which made it difficult to do even simple things like washing the dishes.
A social worker at Bankstown hospital advised the couple to apply for home care funding from the government, so a carer could come to their house and help with everyday tasks. It was the first time Anh had ever heard of the Home Care Package program.
“I really needed help with everything, but didn’t know anything about home care,” she says. “It is really important for us to live in our own home for as long as possible, so I decided to see if we could get some support.”
Anh’s in-laws recommended getting in touch with HomeCaring, so Anh gave us a call. She was immediately struck by how friendly and helpful everyone was, especially HomeCaring case manager, Lizzie.
“We spoke to Anh and Van in Vietnamese, explained to them how a Home Care Package works and asked them about the kind of care they wanted,” says Lizzie. “Then we helped them get approval for two Home Care Packages from the government: a Level 3 package for Van, and a Level 2 package for Anh. This helped them get the help they needed.”
Anh and Van now have two carers who help with the housework, drive them to appointments, and do their grocery shopping. “I can’t reach for things, so my carers help me with all the cleaning and laundry. They also help me preparing meals, which means I can still enjoy cooking but stop as soon as I get tired,” says Anh.
The couple have been in control of their care from the very beginning. Anh actively collaborates with Lizzie about the services she and Van receives. If she needs something, she searches the Internet for information and texts Lizzie for help. Most recently, HomeCaring is helping Van get a lift chair to keep him comfortable: a process which involved being assessed by an occupational therapist, applying for funding, and choosing the right chair.
“I enjoy working with Anh a lot,” says Lizzie. “It’s great to see the way she and Van look after each other and try to be independent. I like how they email or text me when they need support.”
The HomeCaring team also make the effort to listen to Anh and Van and understand their needs. During the first meeting, for example, Lizzie learnt that Anh was greatly affected by a bad experience with her previous home care provider. The company kept changing the couple’s carers, causing her to feel anxious and fearful.
Lizzie took Anh’s concerns seriously and made sure she and Van had the same carers each week. If a replacement carer is unavoidable, she contacts Anh with as much notice as possible, and gives her the choice to accept the worker replacement or not.
This allowed Anh to build a trusting relationship with her care team. She not only feels comfortable in her own home, but is also able to regain some of the independence she once had. “All my support workers are really nice and caring. They always come with a smile, which makes me happy,” she says.
“With older people like me, it’s important to understand how we’re feeling and be patient – to treat us with dignity and respect. This is what HomeCaring do so well, and it makes me feel good. That’s why I’ve introduced so many of my friends to HomeCaring.”
For more information on how Home Caring can help you regain your independence, please get in touch.