Foster resident and retired junior primary teacher Marie Dixon cheerfully acknowledges that the main reason she continues to live comfortably in her own home despite her mature age and an ongoing medical condition is Foster’s South Gippsland Hospital (SGH) Home Care Package (HCP) Program.
A participant in the Commonwealth-funded program since before moving to Foster some four years ago, Marie says her Level Two (of four) HCP has been perfectly tailored to suit her current needs and will adapt as and when required in the future.
“I wouldn’t cope now without the help of the HCP team, including my SGH HCP Case Manager Lyana Ryan; my weekly cleaner who also brings me eggs, and the people who keep up with the garden and the gutters,” she said.
“You do make friends with everyone you’re in regular contact with, and Lyana also makes sure I get the assistance I need to manage my lung condition, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), as well as with everyday living.
“Lyana and I often talk on the phone in between her visits, and she organises and co-ordinates the various services and equipment I need.
“These include my medical and podiatry appointments, the special shoes and the walker that help keep me on my feet, my home exercise program, and my supply of oxygen, which I now depend on.
“I used to live in Buninyong, near Ballarat, and I came to Foster to be closer to one of my daughters, Lou, who lives at Waratah Bay with her family, a year after I lost my husband, Frank,” Marie said.
“Frank had been diagnosed with dementia and so was eligible for the Ballarat Base Hospital’s HCP program, which I loved because it meant I got practical help with looking after him, like showering, and respite care, and with cleaning the house,” she said.
“After Frank went into residential care and later passed away, the HCP continued for me because of my COPD, and was transferred with me to Foster, which was another thing that persuaded me to come here, as the SGH is an approved HCP provider.”
“You can’t expect your family to be there all the time, and the HCP allows me to live my own life in my own place,” Marie said.
“My daughter Claire, who lives in Buninyong and comes to visit me with her own children and grandchildren, says she and her siblings can relax, knowing I’m safe and supported when they’re not around.
“The HCP gives me a level of independence that I wouldn’t otherwise have,” she said.
“I go for walks, with my oxygen bottle on my wheelie walker and because I’ve always been a great reader, I thoroughly enjoy the local University of the Third Age book club discussions, as well as the U3A painting classes.
“I like the liaison between the SGH care people and the Foster Medical Centre; that really is the beauty of it, and living here is just amazing,” Marie said.
“I know the services that keep me going now, and the other services I’ll need as time goes by, are available to me.”
SGH Home Care Package Program Manager Melissa Henwood said HCPs are one of the ways that Australians aged 65 or over can access affordable care services to get some help at home.
“They are designed for those with more complex care needs that go beyond what the entry level Commonwealth Home Support Program can provide,” she said.
“HCPs can be an option if you need a coordinated approach to the delivery of your help at home, perhaps because you need help with many everyday tasks, or the care you need is more complex or intensive.”
Melissa said SGH’s aim is to provide efficient, effective and top-quality HCP services to meet the needs of the eligible people in the community.
“Our goal is to help you to maintain your lifestyle, remain safely at home and address your healthcare needs, and we will guide you through your options, helping you make the best decisions for now and the future,” she said.
“We work with you to identify your needs and to discuss what services you would like to receive to suit your individual circumstances.
“Then we will coordinate and deliver these services and be a friendly point of contact when needed.”
Melissa said people wishing to arrange a Home Care Package through SGH are invited to contact her to make an appointment.
“The first steps are to set up a My Aged Care account, and to be assessed by the Aged Care Assessment Service to determine just what type and level of services you require,” she said.
“I’m more than happy to guide you through the process and to make sure your HCP services wrap around you in the most helpful and efficient way.”
SGH Home Care Packages can provide a broad range of coordinated services including home assessment and modification advice, cleaning, gardening, and help with shopping; personal and nursing care, medication assistance, and wound care; medical appointments transport and support, and Allied Health services like Physiotherapy and Podiatry.
SGH Director Community Care Samantha Park said SGH has been delivering the HCP program since 2018, and at present is supporting nearly 100 participants from Korumburra to Yarram, Mirboo North and Inverloch and all places in between, including the Corner Inlet district..
“SGH is a trusted and well-respected care provider, with locals caring for and looking after locals in their own communities,” she said.
“The HCP program has enabled SGH to expand its workforce, and there will be more job opportunities to comeas the program continues to grow.”
For more information about the South Gippsland Hospital Home Care Package Program, contact the SGH Home Care Package Program Manager Melissa Henwood on 5683 9780.