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Back A thank you to the staff and residents at Ultimate Care Rose Court

05 October 2017

Since 2012, my Mum (Lorrane) has been a resident of Rose Court in Christchurch. Sadly her fight to survive a debilitating neurological disease ended on 13th September. I write this in appreciation of the love and care she experienced from the many staff who became family.

Firstly, a bit about Mum’s disease and its progression. After initially experiencing a deterioration in her croquet skills, Mum was diagnosed with “cortico-basal degenration” (CBD) – a disease affecting around 1-2 per 100,000. Over a period of months she began falling – and unable to then sit up or stand - resorted to activating her St John’s personal alarm. After ever increasing ambulance visits, Mum came to the realisation that an independent-living apartment in Rose Court was the best option.

She quickly established a network of support and friendships among the staff and residents of Rose Court. She particularly enjoyed group outings, housie, meal times and quiz activities. As her illness  deteriorated her walker became less effective in preventing falls so an electric wheelchair became her (and her grandchildren’s) new toy – although her ‘driving skills’ were deteriorating rapidly. After 18 months, a move to the hospital wing was needed as her motor skills decreased and her care needs increased.

Over the next three years or so Mum gradually lost the ability to move her arms and hands, then her ability to speak declined, and for the last two years was limited to vocalising and emotions. Before losing her speech she participated in a Radio New Zealand interview with Jim Mora as part of his “Greatest song ever written” segment. This podcast has been listened to be family, friends and staff to remind us of/ introduce people to Mum’s voice. Throughout the disease her ability to hear and understand remained intactret – making it doubly frustrating when communication became hard. This frustration was experienced by everyone who worked with or spent time with Mum in the last few years. In the process helping us all increase our resilience and compassion.

Simple things such as calling for help soon became difficult. A personal call bell proved very helpful until Mum could no longer summon the strength or initiate movement to press this. Thankfully she retained an ability to blink which helped her access a communication system – using ‘partner-assisted scanning’. Communication partners (staff, family, friends) would read out letters from an alphabet-based chart and Mum would blink or grunt when a desired letter was spoken – this proved very useful for communicating basic needs and wants (e.g. toilet, TV, radio, comfort, wishes). Once her ability to blink or vocalise disappeared, providing her with basic choices (e.g. TV or radio) and following her eye-gaze were successful strategies used by care and nursing staff. Perhaps most important was understanding and being familiar with her needs and routines.

Mum’s determination to live despite her situation was inspiring. As was the patience, tolerance, care, compassion of all staff. It is hard to put into words the appreciation and respect I have for everything the staff at Rose Court did to make Mum’s life meaningful and comfortable. All staff – from reception, kitchen, maintenance, cleaning, care and nursing – made positive contributions to her life over the past five years. From bathing, feeding, laughing, listening, talking, and comforting – everyone did their absolute best to interpret and meet Mum’s needs and wants. It was a privilege to be present from time-to-time to observe staff perform their work as caring and concerned – yet highly ‘professional’ people. Thank you to all the staff and residents of Rose Court for making her life comfortable and meaningful.

Written by Dean, son of Lorrane.  Dean kindly gave us permission to share his experience on our website.