Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal (FRRR)

In many aged care facilities social isolation among elderly residents has been an ongoing battle, especially during COVID, as restrictions and lockdowns prevented family and friends visiting loved ones for almost two years. Luckily for the residents of Eventide Lutheran Homes (ELH) in Hamilton, Victoria, the future is now looking decidedly more social.  

HEADING: New wheels for Eventide residents.

Thanks to a $10,000 Strengthening Rural Communities (SRC) grant supported by Ian Rollo Currie Foundation, ELH was able to purchase a golf buggy that has been assisting with the transport of residents with mobility and sight issues around the facility. This has been especially useful for building social connection among residents who previously may not have engaged with organised activities due to the difficulty of getting around.

The golf buggy has three seats available to move the residents around in a comfortable and protected way across the facility, including the gardens, the golf course, and any other location the residents wish to visit.

The purchase of the buggy has been an absolute success for not only the residents, but for the staff and volunteers as well. After 18 months of almost constant lockdowns, the volunteers and social activities staff have been very excited to see more activities in the facility and to see the enjoyment of the residents. Staff members have also been seen taking more ownership over projects and events within the facility.

In one instance, a resident was taken for a drive around a nearby golf course where he had previously played golf with a handicap of four for 50 years. He was visibly moved by the experience of visiting the golf course once again.

The buggy arrived at Eventide on the 8 November 2021 and was christened with a celebration morning tea and rides for residents outside. Unfortunately, the weather was not so kind, and the rides had to be cut short. But since then, the buggy has been moving people around the grounds with no issues.

“Apart from the obvious enjoyment of the residents it was exciting to see different staff members taking ownership and being part of the project. After 18 months of almost constant lockdown, none or very few volunteers and few social activities staff were very excited to have social activities in the facility and see the enjoyment of the residents. This had a positive effect on staff and they are busy planning events for the buggy.
Visitors who have been prevented from freely seeing their loved ones for almost 2 years have been excited and engaged in the project and will be able to take their loved ones for rides outside.”

Currie Park, Euroa’s retirement village, is run by the Old Colonist’s Association of Victoria (OCAV), which was established in 1896 to care for older Victorians in need. OCAV provides access to quality accommodation and care for people who could not otherwise afford it.

They received a $40,000 Caring for Ageing Rural Australians grant funded by the Ian Rollo Currie Estate Foundation to renovate and upgrade the facilities in five residential units in Euroa. The units were originally constructed in 1977, and were no longer fit-for-purpose, with the facilities being functionally out-dated and presenting a number of safety hazards.

Residents at Currie Park are aged between 68 and 92, and all suffer some form of physical illness, with many affected by arthritis and associated mobility issues. The conversion of bathrooms into wet rooms has meant that residents can now walk into the shower without having to step over the bulkhead. For those residents requiring assistance, there is now greater space for shower aids and attendants. The addition of non-slip vinyl flooring has increased the safety for residents like Ken, who had previously suffered a fall in the bathroom, but now feels much more confident navigating his surroundings.

The kitchens too also received a makeover, with the flooring also being replaced, along with new cooktops, and disability-friendly sink mixers replacing the old tapware. Shelley Calopa from OCAV commented that the renovation of units at Currie Park has directly benefited the families and care staff of the five residents whose units were refurbished, as well as the wider community, as local suppliers and tradespeople were utilised wherever possible. It is estimated that these renovations will benefit at least 25 residents in the future.

HEADING: Facility Refurb for Currie Park Residents. IMAGE: Building exterior.