A lonely time, a busy time

Christmas can be a lonely time of year for the elderly who are on their own. And it can also be a busy time for aged care facilities taking calls from concerned family members.

Spare a thought, some ham and a mince pie for an elderly neighbour this Christmas, urges a seniors advocacy group.

Lobby and consumer group National Seniors Australia is calling on Australians to take the time to visit their elderly friends and neighbours in the lead up to Christmas

Chief executive Michael O’Neill said there were a lot of people spending a lonely Christmas and that could be lessened if their fellow community members looked in on them.

“And if the budget will stretch to it, perhaps pick up a pack of mince pies or a bit of ham the next time you are in the supermarket,” Mr O’Neill said in a statement.

“Little things like that can make all the difference and help older people feel more connected to their communities.”

It doesn’t take much to drop in and see if your older, and perhaps frail, neighbour is all right, Mr O’Neill said.

“And perhaps those who visit them could find they also enjoyed the experience.”

It’s a busy time of year too

This time of year can be busy for residential aged care facilities inundated with calls for information and help from concerned family members about their loved one, says aged care professional Heather Hill.

Ms Hill, a registered nurse and director of an aged care agency nursing organisation and said nursing homes could expect higher than usual distress calls immediately after Christmas as many families recognise the increasing frailty of older family members.

“When I talk to nursing homes at the moment, they tell me it’s usually about three phone enquiries a week but after Christmas it’s probably closer to 15 to 20 phone calls a week for the first few weeks as families try to gather information,” Ms Hill said in statement.

“When families get together at Christmas, often it’s the first occasion in some time that younger family members have spent an extended period with mum or dad or an older family member.”

As a result someone might call their local nursing home for a chat about their loved one without realising staff are very busy looking after the residents and not in a position to supply all the information a family needs, she said.

Heather Hill, managing director of Healther Hills Pathways

There is help at hand

Ms Hill is also managing director of an organisation which provides independent care, legal, financial and counselling advice and support for consumers investigating residential aged care.

Ms Hill co-founded the organisation, Heather Hill Pathways, about 12 months ago to provide the information and support that distressed families needed. 

There is a 24-hour, seven-day national helpline for consumers to call for advice.

The organisation involves partnerships with qualified legal, financial, mediation and counselling specialists including Brian Herd who is the lead legal professional.

The main goal is to help families successfully find their way through the aged care maze, Ms Hill said.

Busy nursing staff are encouraged to refer post-Christmas callers, where appropriate, to Heather Hills Pathways, Ms Hill said.

“Often these callers are months away from seriously considering a specific organisation’s care services,” she said.

“They just want a discussion with somebody who can help them talk through all of the issues.”

The helpline is national but the full suite of services on offer is available in Queensland, with the main service areas being in the Brisbane, Gold Coast and Towoomba areas, Ms Hill said.

Visit Heather Hill Pathways website or call the 24-hours advice line on 1300 227 949, open 7 days a week.

Tags: christmas, health-hill-pathways, healther-hill, michael-oneill, national-seniors-australia,

1 thought on “A lonely time, a busy time

  1. I ahve been in aged care for almost 30 years & find the lead up to Christmas not after as the busiest. This is the time that so many relatives express additional appreciation for all the care throughout the year
    but the other side is the once a year visitors who express their guilt for not being attentive to wanting in depth explanations, being critical & demanding. These people are so much more time & emotion consuming even although we weather the storm that unless a critical incident happens we won’t see them until next year

Leave a Reply