More than 60 years after they last lived together, sisters Lily Yeo and Mary Chin are closer than ever before thanks to Ryman Healthcare’s continuum of care options.
For Lily, a beautiful two-bedroom ground floor independent apartment at Nellie Melba Retirement Village has been home for her and husband Loy for the past two years.
“Mary is my eldest sibling and my other siblings live far away, so we’ve been looking after her, going from the village to her home in Caufield, and for many years before we moved here too,” Lily says.
When Mary’s Alzheimer’s progressed to a stage where she needed more care, Lily and her siblings knew Mary would be both happy and well-looked after at Nellie Melba’s care centre.
Before the move, Mary and Lily’s other sisters flew from Perth and Cairns to look at the village care centre and learn about the individualised care offered to the residents who live there.
The care centre has purpose-built dementia care facilities, including easy-to-navigate environments, cues to support memory, and staff specialising in the delivery of dementia-focused care.
“I didn’t want the stress of running up and down to Caufield. I was very stressed thinking about what would happen if there was an emergency,” Lily says.
As well as relieving Lily and Loy of the stress of caring for Mary from afar, the move has enabled them to ensure Mary has the same security they have enjoyed since moving to the village.
“I used to tell Mary, ‘you’re the oldest, you should be looking after me’, now I get to look after her,” Lily says.
“Mary and I have always been quite close, and in my Malaysian culture we always look after family, and with Mary having no children it is my responsibility to do that for her.
“With Mary at the village now we can keep doing that, with the extra care also available to us if we come to need it.”
Nellie Melba residents and sisters Mary Chin (left) and Lily Yeo.
Independent residents at all Ryman Healthcare villages have the option to access higher levels of care in serviced apartments and the care centre, should their needs change.
For now, Lily and Loy like to keep busy with village activities.
Loy is a competitive table tennis player, even starting a register to enable residents to continue playing during COVID-19.
The couple have also started a Mahjong group, curry evening and a Chinese New Year evening at the village.
They enjoy the village’s many amenities, including a bowling green, indoor pool, billiards table and library.
With Lily and Loy’s grandchildren, who live in Switzerland, coming to stay at the village whenever they visit Australia, Nellie Melba has become the heart of care and happiness for their wider family.
“We are very happy here and so is Mary,” Lily says.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, and the limitation of visits to the care centre, staff have gotten creative to ensure Lily and Mary see one another during this time.
For the past few months Mary has waved at Lily from her balcony, while most contact has been via telephone.
“The staff are very caring, and management is very obliging. They even fast-tracked Mary moving in as COVID-19 got worse because we knew she would be safer here,” Lily says.
“That is what the village is like, and that is very special.”