Out and About in Melbourne

A respite care centre in Melbourne has made day trips a regular part of their weekly schedule.

Above: Gordon and Marian Mcleish, who are very grateful to the staff at Avebury House

By Stephen Easton

Melbourne respite care centre Avebury House has come up with another way to make life easier for carers, and more interesting for the loved ones they look after.

The Out and About program aims to extend the daytime respite care already offered by Avebury House, by picking up the centre’s guests from their homes, taking them on a excursion in the local area and dropping them off again in the afternoon.

The day respite centre, run by not-for-profit aged care and disability services provider Villa Maria, has run day trips irregularly in the past but will now run them every Tuesday.

The first of the weekly outings is being held today – a scenic drive and visit to the Cranbourne RSL Club for lunch – and next week’s will be to the Artillery Museum at Nar Nar Goon to coincide with Australia Day.

Cathy Kenny, team leader at Avebury House, said the program aims to give carers a scheduled time when the person they care for is busy, so they can feel free to take some time to themselves.

“It also gives their loved ones an interest and an outing, and they benefit from meeting other people and developing further friendships,” Ms Kenny said.

Avebury House Leisure and Lifestyle Assistant Helen Carter said Out and About would give care recipients the chance to get out and do something fun and stimulating, while retaining familiar routines, people and places.

“It’s evolving from the respite centre,” Ms Carter said.  “We might go out to morning melodies at an RSL, some of the galleries around the area or drive out to the Dandenongs.”

“It gives people more opportunities to access the respite service, which enables carers to have a break, especially working carers.  And when they get home, it gives them something to talk about.”

Gordon McLeish found Avebury House after his wife Marian was diagnosed with dementia and is extremely grateful to the centre’s staff.

“They really and truly saved my sanity,” Mr McLeish said.  “They’re not just workers; they actually care.”

“You know the person you love and care for is getting that love and care.  You think no-one else can look after them as well as you, but at Avebury House you find kindred souls.”

Marian has since moved into residential high care, but Mr Mcleish says she used to enjoy going on bus trips from the day respite centre.

“She would come home, just excited about going somewhere and singing songs in the bus.  She can still remember all the words to a lot of the songs they’d learn.”

Villa Maria has put the call out for volunteers to help out at Avebury House, so they can provide services to more people and possibly expand the Out and About program in the future.

Call (03) 9769 9248 to speak with staff if you would like to donate your time to the facility, located in the southern Melbourne suburb of Berwick.

Tags: aged, aged-care, avebury-house, dementia, respite, respite-care, villa-maria,

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