At 103, Rita's powering through another pandemic

While most Australians are adjusting to the many challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, Rita Muffett, 103, has lived all her life with recollections of the previous Spanish Flu pandemic that hit Australia hard about a century ago.

Mike Rita Scone 580Rita lives in a HammondCare independent living unit in Scone and enjoyed a visit for her birthday with new CEO Mike Baird who was in town to meet staff, residents and clients across residential care, home care and independent (retirement) living provided in the upper Hunter town.

Good times and bad times

Surrounded by many of her devoted extended family, Rita shared some of her recollections of what was a very difficult time for the nation.

"My father drove a makeshift ambulance and they went all around helping people. And I know we weren't allowed to kiss him, he could only drive to our gate, no further. Lot's of people died."

But there were many good times as well, with her parents being very musical, her father playing the violin as they hosted dances in their home.

She also remembers Scone as being a friendly place where you weren't "left to face problems on your own, everyone would always help each other".

Rita worked on a homestead north of Scone where she met her husband Wal. They married in 1938, had five children, before Wal passed away in 1958. She now has 14 grandchildren, 24 great grandchildren and 17 great great grandchildren - although Rita admits she may have lost count.

Valuing older people

Mike Rita Scone 03 hi res 580Mike Baird said it was privilege to meet people like Rita and her family.

"One of the valuable perspectives we receive from older people like Rita is that tough times have happened before and we can get through them," Mike said.

"The power of long-term perspective is just one way older Australians contribute to society, and yet as a nation we’re far from truly valuing and respecting our older generations. This needs to change."

Rita was happy to share her secret to a long life which she put down to "good, clean living". And lemons.

“I’ve always loved lemons, I used to eat them like apples. Now I always have lemon in my tea, it keeps me healthy.”

 Tailored services for upper Hunter

Mike Thomas Trishaws Scone vertica 580lHammondCare took over operation of the former Strathearn services in late 2016 and has since added community aged care as part of the mix of service which include residential aged and dementia care, dementia and aged care at home and independent living.

Mr Baird met residents and staff in the various services and, among many great stories of care, learned that HammondCare At Home has had many great outcomes for older people being supported to live at home independently. And in particular that the service goes the extra mile to support clients in smaller outlying towns. 

He also took a moment (pictured) to try out the remarkable Trishaw bikes that a generous donor has provided for the enjoyment of residents at Strathearn House.

During his visit to the Hunter, Mr Baird also meet staff, residents and clients at HammondCare Cardiff and HammondCare Waratah, both providing a ranged of aged and dementia care services in the Newcastle and Lake Macquarie regions.