Leaving the snow and the Blue Mountains behind us, we headed for Sydney. We were lucky enough to be there during Vivid Sydney – a fantastic evening laser light show which lit up the harbour building, the Bridge and the sails of the Opera House. What a spectacular feast for the eyes.
But I was there to work. I visited the Anglicare Elizabeth Lodge, the first AMI Montessori accredited senior facility in Australia. What a wonderful caring facility, with fully engaged staff. All have had Montessori training and all work as a coherent team to give the best care possible to their residents. While I was there I was fortunate enough to meet the visiting AMI group from London. What a knowledgeable group, and great contacts to have made. The Lodge itself has the overriding ethos of ‘the more I do for you, the more I steal from you’. Managed Risk and Resident Choice is at the forefront of the care they provide, ensuring that the resident is fully involved in all their care.
I found that very few of the residents were on thickened drinks and pureed food. This is a last resort for their SALT teams. They use exercise, positioning and are not as quick to resort to thickener unless the risk is unmanageable. This means that snacks and drinks are freely available for residents to help themselves. (I found this in the US too) Falls are managed more by keeping residents mobile and ‘strong’ rather than inactive. Nowhere is off limits, and residents are encouraged to do as much as they can for themselves. There is even a ‘Walk and talk’ carer who takes those who feel they ‘have to go somewhere’ for a walk to the nearby park.
The walls were utilised for activities that could be done by the residents, and everything was labeled with either instructions or conversation starters. the residents themselves, also took part in keeping the Lodge neat and tidy – laying tables, folding laundry and dusting were just some roles for them. All the residents seemed happy to be able to help out and help each other.
With our time coming to a close, we did our last bit of sightseeing to Botany Bay, Bondi beach (a damp squib) Manly and a trip out to the northern suburbs to catch up with old friends from Sowa. Russ managed to fit in a bit of spinning – he saw loads of fish in the ultra clear waters, but sadly none decided to bite.
A long but rewarding trip behind us, it was time to board the flights home. A 40hr journey via San Francisco which due to crossing the dateline involved 3 6ams! Our experiences with United Airlines again left something to be desired and we finally reached home exhausted and not sure what day or time our bodies thought it was! All in all, the experience was amazing, and I have learnt so much which I want to pass on to everyone working in the Care Sector. I have travelled to learn – now I return to inspire
We awoke this morning to a winter wonderland! Snow had fallen overnight, closing some roads over the mountains and giving some excited children a ‘snow day’. After breakfast we searched for an ‘indoor’ activity for today, and came up with the Jenolan Caves. Setting off late morning meant that the roads were cleared or passable. The 75km trip was through snow edged roads, and ended with an 11km switchback down the mountainside. But the effort was worth it. The caves were stunning, and the stalactite and stalagmite formations were exquisite. A trip to the Oberon Dam completed our last full day in the Blue Mountains. Down to Sydney tomorrow – where the wind is howling and the surf is ‘damaging’ according to the weather report.
After a very, very, very long flight we arrived in Australia at 7am local time. We sailed through customs, picked up the hire car and drove to the Blue Mountains. After checking in to our wonderful hotel, we took a drive into the mountains. Breathtaking views assaulted us from every angle. Words fail me, and it seems most of the worlds nationalities, as the most common exclamation I heard from all the tourists was “WOW” See for yourselves
With my work in Canada done, and our trip to Edmonton scuppered, we repaired to San Fransico instead. From Niagara this involved a car trip back to Cleveland, a flight to Atlanta, Georgia, then on to San Francisco. And all this over Memorial weekend – yes, veterans and serving personnel actually have a Public Holiday in their Honour!. The drive was scenic and uneventful. The overnight Hotel stop was time to repack for air travel, and was pleasant enough. The flight to Atlanta was ok, but the SF flight had to reroute around the heavy storms lashing the mid-west. Not only that, I had neglected to read the ‘flight duration’ and did not realise we were crossing time zones – so our 2 hr flight was actually 5hrs! As we flew around the storm we could see the lightning in the clouds. An amazing sight to see, but a bit disconcerting being in a plane at the time. The time spent in San Francisco was packed with sightseeing. Pier 39, Coit Tower, Golden Gate Bridge, Lombard street (Crooked Street), a ride on the trolley car, all on foot and by bus. Our time in the US came to an end and I will take away overriding memories of automatic flushing toilets ( first time it happened I almost needed the toilet again!) and a distinct lack of tea making abilities alongside my memories of the places I’ve been and the people I’ve met.
After rescheduling and rearranging appointments and visits, I set off alone into Canada armed only with printed Google directions (satnav still vehemently denying the existance of Canada). Driving on the ‘wrong side’ of the road, in an unfamiliar and automatic car, was a daunting task, but one that I gladly accepted. I spent the morning being amazed and inspired by the work of Diane and Elaine of the Alzheimers Society. Whilst they face many of the same barriers as we do in the UK, they fight until they get what they want! They seek funding wherever they can to augment and supplement their federal funds, and the Montessori Home Kits that they have made up to lend out to Homes or individuals are nothing short of fantastic. They also have ‘babies’ and robotic pets which became so successful they actually have ‘adoptions’. Two very passionate ladies changing lives day by day.
In the afternoon, I met Gail Elliot – Dementiability – for a visit to Royal Rose, and a productive car journey. Gail is a leader in the field of Dementia, and the information she shared with me will be invaluable. On our tour of the Royal Rose Home, I observed Montessori & Dementiability in action. There were activites set out accessible to all, and a group of residents were working independently around a group table. As they each did their own work, they were chatting together. Those folding towels & sheets were not just keeping busy – this was the Homes laundry that was being folded – a task the residents do every day. The Housekeeper is on hand to check that hands are clean etc before starting, and that residents do not feel overwhelmed. The Home also partners with the local college to have student volunteers who work either with residents, or revamp/redecorate the areas. Again, I couldn’t help but notice the air of calm, and the restful, muted colours in the Home. With all of the Homes/Communities I have visited ‘risk over reward’ is prevalent. Residents are able to move around as much as they want, with or without walking aids – no-one ‘hovers’ over them in case they fall! ” The more we do for them, the more we steal from them” is the underlying motto.. This should be an adage we all follow in the care industry
After breakfast on the Tuesday, we left our base at the Quail Hollow Resort and headed along the shoreline of Lake Erie towards Canada. The scenery was fantastic, the day warm and sunny. as we neared Canada, the satnav went haywire, and after a trip through a rather shady part of town we finally reached the border. That’s when our problems really started! 4hrs later we were unceremoniously returned to the US after being denied entry to Canada. But ‘n boer maak ‘n plan, and we walked into the nearest hotel with free wifi, ordered tea & coffee, and logged onto booking.com to sort accommodation. Once sorted, we regrouped, rescheduled and reorganised.
A walk around the Falls by night was a relaxing end to a stressful afternoon
When we were not observing or visiting, we were being bowled over by scenery and attractions! The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Westside Market, and the shores of Lake Erie made for some unforgettable memories for Russ and I. Don’t forget to read his observations too, on his blog. The architecture in the old towns we visited was outstanding. And everywhere the mood was so unhurried.