Passionate About Care

Lutheran Aged Care Albury

Lutheran Aged Care was launched in 1960 when a group of Lutheran women saw the need for a helping hand within the community. They had all been part of a women’s organisation, and also considered themselves members of the larger Lutheran community of Victoria and South Australia.

So it began; the women raised a great deal of money and volunteered their own time to a cause which developed into the organisation’s first aged care facility. Called Arrunga, this facility still exists today. The aged care service began by offering low care services and has expanded over the years to include many other services including low care, high care, respite care and dementia-specific care. According to Mrs Rocks, “We also have a significant community care service option, and in 2009, as well as the development here in Albury, a facility was built at The Rock which is actually a satellite of the organisation. The Rock is an isolated country area about an hour and a half from here (Albury). Emily Gardens is a 30 bed facility that offers general aged care and care specifically for those with dementia.”

The organisation grew substantially from 1960 until today, with over 400 residents and clients in care, more than 350 staff members and over 100 volunteers who take great care of the residents in one way or another. “Lutheran Aged Care is well established in this region and would be one of the largest organisations in the area,” explains Mrs Rocks.

Lutheran Aged care takes a special approach to those in its care who are suffering from dementia. Rather than just dealing with the disease itself, the organisation adopts a person-centred approach – something which is being taken up more and more by the government in regards to aged care and individuals with dementia. “As far as community and residential care, this means that the care given to the person, including the medical care and support care, originates from who they are as a person,” Mrs Rocks explains. “Rather than a medical model for instance, where we would start with the disease process and the medical support flows from that. What it really means is that people who come into residential and community aged care who are suffering from dementia have an opportunity to retain their personhood; everything revolves around that – who they have been in their lives, what their history tells you about them, what their families tell you about them, their natural preferences – which is very important because dementia means that we lose a lot of short term memory and we don’t have the ability, as that disease progresses, to respond to what’s going on around us. We rather remember routines, behaviours and situations that happened or were somehow entrenched in our being a long time ago.

“Let’s say we have a man who had worked on the railway; in his previous life, he got up early every morning and went off to work. He had a routine like that for a good number of years. That person, when suffering from dementia, is probably going to revert to that schedule. If he gets up at 4 o’clock in the morning and needs to be getting into some sort of routine, the ordinary medical model might have put him back to bed and given him some medication which may have produced sedation or difficult behaviour because that’s not his natural instinct. The challenge of good dementia care is to allow a person to act out that familiar routine and provide the kind of diversional activity that can seem natural to them rather than forcing them into another routine because it suits us.”

This type of person-centred care is traditionally difficult to provide because most nurses and support staff have their own finely honed routines to follow. The management and staff at Lutheran Aged Care Albury, however, has aimed to develop a true home-like environment where the people in care can live their lives according to how they feel at any given point in time whilst still getting the care that they deserve. “That’s the kind of dementia care that we deliver and I believe that we have a fairly good track record and reputation for that.”

Aged care service provision, of course, isn’t just for those who suffer from dementia. Lutheran Aged Care also offers accommodations for those who might just need an extra hand to do some tasks throughout the day. The organisation offers living spaces in two different retirement villages, or independent living villages.

The point of entry into these residences is through the community care programs that are offered by the organisation. Care packages can be paid for by the individual or with the help of government funding, and from there the client can choose to enter one of the villages, where living is independent but support through community care is available. If an elderly person feels lonely or isolated in the community but is still capable of caring for him or herself independently, choosing a retirement village might be a very positive option. There, residents can take part in activities with others who live in the community, and perhaps be closer to a number of other community-based amenities as well.

The villages themselves are beautiful, with lovely gardens and amazing views of the countryside, and are exceptionally well maintained by staff. “They are very pleasant areas for people to come and live in,” says Mrs Rocks. “If you’re living in one of those areas and you start to feel frail you might want to access our community packages which could help you live better for the rest of your life.”

For those who aren’t able to live independently, there are also multiple residential care facilities. These facilities are equipped with beautiful rooms that boast ensuites, gardens and lovely outdoor areas for reflection. According to Mrs Rocks, “I’ve been told that these residential care facilities are reasonably unique in that they have a lot more outside access, beautiful gardens and our residents have a lot of personal space. That can tend to be different within some of the older style aged care facilities as well as the ones located within the metropolitan areas where you may be in a high rise situation or you may be in a single story building but there’s very little scope for you to be outside.”

For those who require only a low level of care, a healthy social life is encouraged by offering a lifestyle that helps people engage comfortably in the community for as long as they possibly can. “We have areas for people who need high care as well, and in those areas the staffing changes; we have a high level of staffing and more registered nursing staff as well as a lot of additions to the surroundings that support someone who has that kind of care need.”

The team at Lutheran Aged Care is passionate about the work that they do and they offer their services to anyone who needs them, not just those who are of the Lutheran faith. Delivering aged care services can prove quite challenging, but the staff at Lutheran Aged Care Albury derive a great deal of satisfaction and motivation from their work, and are well supported by management.

“It’s very high risk in terms of getting it right,” says Mrs Rocks, “so it’s very, very important that the people who work in those facilities have a passion for those people and what they do for those people. And that passion really makes a huge difference.”

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April 27, 2018, 9:07 AM AEST

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