Palm Beach, nestled on Queensland’s Gold Coast, has been Jackie’s slice of paradise for over 20 years.
The 79-year-old moved into the suburb in the late nineties, after raising two children and enjoying a career as a medical receptionist and assistant to a Member of Parliament. As an outgoing personality who thrives on being around people, she loves living in her ground-floor unit – and being in control of her own space.
“I’ve been in this place for ‘over fifties’ for more than 20 years. Down the road is Lagoona Lake, and over the road to the right is the beach. It’s absolutely gorgeous,” says Jackie. “This, to me, is like my little nursing home at the moment. It’s the freedom I love.”
Enjoying that freedom, though, hasn’t always been easy. In 2009, Jackie started to experience health problems, including heart attacks and having multiple cardiac stents placed in her heart. She needed help with everyday tasks, but her children lived a distance away, worked full-time and were unable to provide the level of support Jackie needed. She tried a home care provider, but they could not offer a consistent carer who could come at a time that suited her schedule.
Then in 2013, Jackie attended a senior’s seminar and learnt about government-funded home care packages. She was approved for a package and got in touch with Home Caring Tweed Heads after seeing an advertisement on social media.
“I met with Dr Paul Masterman [manager of Home Caring Tweed Heads] and he said they would do their best to provide me with a carer at 8am in the morning, which was important to me as I am a morning person,” says Jackie.
“Paul also said I could work out specific hours with the carer directly to find a schedule that suited us both. I liked that idea, as it felt more casual and natural. So I decided to go with Home Caring.”
Today, Jackie is still happily receiving regular care through Home Caring. She has used her home care package to purchase a CPAP machine and replace a broken down refrigerator and microwave that could not be repaired.
Her carer, Jenny, assists Jackie with household chores, cleaning and everyday tasks. She also helps Jackie lift things (she has trouble with certain movements due to a compression fracture in her spine) and takes her to different appointments, such as shopping, the movies, or out for a bite to eat.
Jackie says that having Jenny as her regular carer, rather than a different person each week, has been a huge relief. “Receiving consistent care means a lot to people at my age,” she adds.
“Jenny comes at 8am, and she says, ‘If you ever need me to come earlier or later, let me know’. I can ring her and tell her if I’m sick and rearrange her schedule. I’m so happy with her care. It’s brilliant,” says Jackie.
It’s not just the domestic support that Jackie appreciates; she also enjoys the opportunity to form a new friendship. Rather than treating Jackie as a task to tick off her to-do list, Jenny takes the time to get to know Jackie, and they thoroughly enjoy each other’s company.
“We love a good joke together,” laughs Jackie. “We get along like a house on fire. It’s very unusual to find someone you can click with. She’s so helpful and it’s so nice to see the same face each week.”
“I’m very affected by stress and Jenny is very good at noticing this. She’s got that empathy and compassion. She helps me, and I enjoy going out and about with someone who I like.”
Jenny agrees, describing Jackie as a fun-loving, intelligent soul who has led a fascinating life. “We laugh all the time. If I’m like her at 79, I’ll be blessed,” she says.
“When I provide her with care, the main thing I’m concerned about is that she is in charge. I try to be flexible so Jackie has options, and I’m giving her care that she actually wants.”
“I really look forward to seeing her each week and I come away from looking after her quite uplifted. I’m very lucky to have Jackie as a client.”
Most importantly, Jenny’s personalised service and the efforts of the Home Caring team is helping Jackie achieve what she truly wants: to live independently in her own home, for as long as possible.
“I really would do anything at all to stay here. I appreciate having the help because I do not want to go into a nursing home,” she says.
“The more help I can get in the future, the better. I really do appreciate the help. I don’t know what I would have done with HomeCaring. I’m just so thankful I found them.”