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The power of purpose

OPINION - A sense of purpose can be important for many people's wellbeing - a feeling of understanding where they fit within this world that gives meaning and motivates a person. Sometimes this is through a role or label.

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Della dale Aged Care resident, Elizabeth, walking with her daughter, Cathie. Her family have been volunteering at the home to keep up some of their carer duties for Elizabeth. [Source: Supplied]

Some people fall into a role because of necessity, for example, many partners become carers because their loved one has become ill or impaired in some way. 

While caregiving can be fulfilling and good for the soul, it can be a very debilitating role, especially if that role comes with a lot of stress and burden. 

A lot of carers experience carer fatigue or burnout at some point during their caring role, where they become overwhelmed by the stress of caring for someone 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.

This is usually the motivation that drives people into seeking residential aged care for their loved one. However, the sense of guilt associated with this transition is something that every person goes through. 

Working with those feelings to transform them into a new role, a new purpose, is what aged care is about. I frequently tell our new consumers and families that aged care is about us taking the stress out of your relationship, so that you can stop being a carer and start being a husband or wife, daughter or son, or friend again. 

Usually, this means continuing to maintain a slight role of caregiving in the care home with added support from staff, which results in reduced stress. Also, by being able to leave your relative, partner or friend in the aged care home, you can have a night without interruption, and sleep and recover fully.

Max and his wife Elizabeth are great examples of this. Max had been caring for his wife, who has Alzheimer’s disease, for many years. The transition into aged care was a hard one for him, because he, just like so many others before him, had to grapple with the mixed feelings of guilt and relief, and the anxiety of having both those feelings together. 

Max navigated through his anxiety by volunteering at the care home, where he has been a huge support to his wife and to the staff at Della dale. 

Recently, Elizabeth had a serious fall and fractured her wrist and hip. Max’s determination to help Elizabeth walk again has been inspiring. Her whole family comes in through the week to help now too, walking laps with her and giving her the much-needed exercise and rehabilitation.

It isn’t always the relatives or family that need to redefine their purpose. Sometimes it will be the consumers themselves. 

Finding duties or roles that consumers can get involved in around the care home is a great way of building community and giving our consumers a sense of purpose and belonging. 

Alan watering plants in the Della dale Aged Care central atrium. [Source: Supplied]
Alan watering plants in the Della dale Aged Care central atrium. [Source: Supplied]

Take Alan for example, who turns 100 this year and likes to help out with everything. Some of the odd jobs Alan gets involved with are gardening, restocking the gloves, watering the central atrium - just to name a few. Alan’s face beams with pride, as he knows he is part of our little community.

For more information about how Della dale Aged Care can assist you, visit the Della dale Aged Care website.

About Della dale Aged Care

Nishan Saparamadu is the Director and Director of Nursing at Della dale Aged Care in Victoria. He has a science degree from Melbourne University with a double major in Psychology and Neuroscience. He went back to university in 2008/09 to complete a Masters of Nursing Science and became a nurse after he finished his masters. He also has a Graduate Diploma in Mental Health Nursing. In Victoria, he worked for seven years at Austin Hospital as a psychiatric nurse while also working as the Deputy Director of Nursing at Della dale Aged Care. Since 2018, he has taken on the full-time role of Director of Nursing at Della dale. Nishan is currently in the process of getting a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from the Melbourne Business School.

Della dale Aged Care has been Nishan's family business, starting in 2002. His mother dreamed of owning her own nursing home and Della dale was named after her, translating to Della's House. Nishan says her mother wanted the nursing home to be like a big home with every occupant feeling like a member of the family.

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