Brook and Mary’s Story

Living with dementia

Brook and Mary began their journey as husband and wife in Darwin in 2003, where they lived together before moving interstate to the beachside city of Newcastle in 2014. Mary, who is 62 years old, has short term memory loss due to living with dementia.

In March 2019, Brook began noticing a significant change in Mary’s symptoms. She was rapidly anxious, overly alert and frequently agitated. Then one day, Brook’s worst nightmare occurred. Mary went missing from their Newcastle home after wandering off and getting lost nearby before she was found by a neighbour. It was then that Brook knew he was no longer able to provide the level of care Mary needed.

In desperate need for help, Brook was put in touch with the Residential Services Manager at HammondCare Waratah, Penny Van Raalte. Penny organised for Mary to have a My Aged Care assessment on the night of Brook’s phone call, and within 24 hours Mary was brought to HammondCare Waratah, where she is now living as a resident.

Thanks to the support of Penny and her team, Brook now has complete peace of mind knowing that Mary will be safe and cared for in the best possible way.

“HammondCare Waratah is doing an excellent job looking after her mental, physical and emotional health. I can honestly say that I couldn’t do a better job than what they are doing,” says Brook.

With Brook no longer taking on the role of being Mary’s fulltime carer, he has been able to find accommodation close to HammondCare Waratah, enabling him to visit Mary often. This new chapter has also sparked more meaningful and enjoyable time together.

“I bring a deck of cards with me when I visit Mary and we just play games and relax together. There are plenty of social spaces and outdoor areas where we can spend time with each other,” says Brook.

While Brook and Mary continue to take each day as it comes, Brook believes Mary’s quality of life has improved since becoming a resident at HammondCare Waratah, which he credits to the level of care she is receiving.

“Her care is completely tailored to her needs. She doesn't have to worry about a thing and neither do I. Everything is taken care of, from cleaning her room and doing her laundry to preparing her meals each day and bringing her the things she needs,” says Brook.

The staff at HammondCare Waratah also offer plenty of opportunities for Mary to take part in a range of activities that are familiar to her, which provides Mary with a sense of purpose and engagement each day. This goes hand in hand with HammondCare’s commitment to provide a positive environment that focuses on what each person can do, not on what they can no longer do.

“Mary is very social! She is knowledgeable about the art of crochet, and has offered to teach the other residents,” says Penny.

Penny expresses that, from the moment HammondCare Waratah welcomed Mary into their care, the staff really took the time to get to know her. From learning about her background to discovering her likes, dislikes and unique quirks. This is central to HammondCare’s approach to care.

“She also enjoys spending time with her carers and actively participates in meal preparation and reminiscing activities,” says Penny.
 
While the decision to move Mary into residential care has introduced a lot of change for both Brook and Mary, the staff at HammondCare Waratah have been there to support them every step of the way.

“The staff are very supportive of my needs as well, and always make me feel welcome and comfortable when I visit. While our situation hasn’t been easy, the staff have really been there for us every step of the way,” says Brook.
 
This is testament to the passion HammondCare holds for giving people like Mary and Brook the support they need to feel confident, independent and happy.

“We are just as dedicated to supporting Brook as we are to supporting Mary,” says Penny.


To find out more about the services HammondCare offers in residential care, please click here.