Embroidery queen of Kingsville

Marea. (Pictures: Supplied)

Marea McGuire is loving life growing vegies and flowers in her apartment garden, playing with her beloved poodle Sarah and doing embroidery, patchwork and other crafts.

The 81-year-old Kingsville resident has a home care package with Uniting AgeWell and gets assistance three days a week from direct care worker Anthea, who Marea says has become a “great companion.”

“I had a few falls and my health is not that great, so Anthea helps with the housework and is also helping me arrange all my patchwork crafts,” she says.

She’s not kidding – Marea has turned her second bedroom at her spacious flat in Amarco Apartments, a Uniting AgeWell Independent Retirement Living community, into an arts and crafts room.

She moved there from her Wangaratta home 20 months ago after her husband died.

“I was a bit nervous living on my own in that house,” she explains. “But here I have the best of both worlds. I love my garden, I have a little community around me and I am close to public transport and shops.”

Marea’s main reason for moving in was the continuum of care. Amarco abuts Uniting AgeWell’s Kingsville Community aged care residence and AgeWell Centre which offers social support services.

Marea and other Amarco residents also enjoy the in-house amenities of a gym, library and café.

Marea is among the many clients on a home care package with Uniting AgeWell in Melbourne’s west.

The not-for-profit aged care provider has clients across Tasmania and Victoria – with many in Melbourne’s west – is now also delivering home care services to 900 clients in the Brimbank council area, as well as those in Hobsons Bay and Maribyrnong.

Rohan Bond, Uniting AgeWell program manager West Metro Home Care says with 80 per cent of clients living alone, extra welfare checks and one-on-one visits are being done to ensure they’re OK.

The upside is that many people adjusted their home care packages to buy electric beds, mobility scooters and install ramps in their homes to enable them to live more independently during isolation. So now that things are getting back to normal, they’ll be able to continue living their easiest best lives possible.

Clients can also access Uniting AgeWell’s North West Metro Short-Term Restorative Care package – an early intervention program that aims to reverse and/or slow functional decline in older people and improve their wellbeing.

This provides a multi-disciplinary range of goal-oriented services at home, including occupational and physiotherapy and equipment needed, for up to 56 paid days.

Rohan says the pandemic has taken its toll on family carers who reported being exhausted, with a growing need for respite care.

Uniting AgeWell provides respite in the home as well as centre-based respite. And to meet this demand, all Uniting AgeWell residential communities, including Kingsville, Manor Lakes and Preston, are offering respite stays, with a special package offering a three week stay for the price of two.

Not only does it give the carers a break, but many of those coming in for short term stays love the camaraderie and support so much they end up staying. It’s also useful for those recovering from a hospital procedure who need extra care before returning home.

The facilities all offer 24-hour specialist clinical and dementia care.

For inquiries about Uniting AgeWell home care packages, respite stays and residential facilities, phone 1300 783 435 or visit www.unitingagewell.org