A new-found calling as a hairdresser
AFTER more than 40 years working in aged care, Kerry Kelly has found a new calling as a hairdresser. And she loves it.
Visits from the hairdresser are a highlight for the 30 residents at Blakeney Lodge in Tumut but the home is in lockdown. So Kerry and her team have taken over.
“I should have been a hairdresser,” residential manager Kerry chuckles. “I’ve wasted 40 years. I’m putting rollers in, teasing hair and doing sets under the dryer.”
With the coronavirus banning visitors to aged care homes, staff have worked hard to help residents maintain contact with families and keep entertained.
Blakeney Lodge liaised with the local Tumut radio station to have a seniors hour each Sunday at 11am where they play residents’ requests and families send messages on air.
And while the choirs and line dancers can no longer entertain the 88 residents at Maranatha Lodge at Batehaven, the music has been ramped-up with one of the activity staff doing sing-alongs and karaoke.
Prayer and Mass is important at the Catholic homes.
“Praying for an end to the coronavirus is at the top of the residents’ prayer list,” Maranatha Lodge care manager Jill Davis said.
Kerry Kelly said Blakeney Lodge “runs on faith”.
“The residents feel quite safe through their faith,” Kerry said. “A lot of people say this home is different and for us it’s the presence of God.
“The residents come from Tumut and have a long association with their parish. We play hymns during the day and the residents take turns to say grace. There have been a lot of impromptu conversations about the virus and faith and where is God in the chaos.”
Kerry wonders if the changed circumstances are not harder on families.
“You can sense the families’ separation anxiety and grief whereas the residents are so resilient and stoic and matter-of-fact,” she said.
“It really does call on a lot of trust from our families and of course some of those family members are elderly too.”
With 100 aged care residents and another 100 in independent living, Calvary Haydon Retirement Community in Canberra is usually a “hive of activity”, according to pastoral carer Chris Nelson.
“Sometimes you have to make an appointment to see a resident, they are so busy with concerts and going out to lunch,” Chris said. “Now residents are craving any interaction they can get.”
Staff help with video calls to family and the home has organized music and entertainment online, but Chris said there can be increased anxiety, depression and boredom as residents lack the stimulation they need.
It is a particular struggle for several couples where one is in aged care and the other living independently.
“The spouse used to visit several times a day, to share meals and activities, but now that’s gone,” Chris said.
He worries residents may forget loved ones.
“It’s all about routine and memory and the hardest part is memories fade,” Chris said.
“The longer this goes on, being apart from loved ones, it could have long-term implications for some residents and you might not be able to recover that.
“That time they would have had together has been lost.”