Meet our team: Jane, Lifestyle Manager at St Louis Home Care
“My aim is to help my clients have a better quality of life through socially engaging activities of their choice”
Jane is the Lifestyle Manager at St Louis Home Care as well as the Residential Lifestyle Manager at St Louis’ Nursing Home. With a great depth of experience in community aged care, medical support, and nursing, she now looks after the lifestyle needs of our clients in Adelaide and Victor Harbor.
After working for many years as an operating theatre nurse in Adelaide and overseas, and in a corporate role for a global medical technology company, she decided to return to community nursing, bringing a range of diverse skills to St Louis’ home care clients.
Jane discusses how she helps people in the community to live better, how social connection is vitally important to their wellbeing, and how she helps them make simple changes that have a positive impact.
What was the impact of lockdown during COVID on your clients?
“The lockdown during COVID made us realise how important social services were to home care clients. The impact was swift, clients were not able to visit their friends or neighbours, family were not able to visit them, they could not get out and about. For older people who do not work anymore, they found themselves socially isolated and becoming depressed and losing interest in things they once enjoyed, even at home.
We knew social activities were important, but when COVID hit, it became very apparent that social connection was vital for the wellbeing of our clients.
Our clients expressed their feelings and told us they were very lonely and unhappy. Even though they knew they couldn’t do anything about it, they still struggled to come to terms with this. With our continual social support, we helped them get through that initial stage of lockdown.
Once we got them back into their normal lifestyle activities, we noticed an instant difference. They were happier, more interested and engaged in what was going on. They also looked after themselves better and had a more positive outlook once again.”
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What is your main aim as a Lifestyle Manager?
“My aim is to provide a support service for our clients, so they have a better quality of life through socially engaging activities of their choice.
Sometimes clients just want a visit from us, so we will pop over for a cup of tea and a chat. Other clients want to join our social program events, so we will tailor a social calendar to whatever they prefer.
One of our clients, Sarah, was spending a considerable amount of time looking after her husband. This included helping him shower, taking him for walks, keeping him company, and doing the cooking, cleaning and gardening at home.
I asked her when she last spent time with her friends, and her reply was it had been at least 18 months since she had gone out for some social interaction.
Through her husband’s home care package, we’ve now arranged for him to have a weekly social visit, we’ve also arranged a cleaner and a gardener. Sarah is now able to get some time off every week to catch up with a friend and spend time doing things she once enjoyed. This has made a considerable difference to their quality of life.
I find it really rewarding to provide a service which results in my clients having a better quality of life. Often people are not aware of the services available which can make such a big difference.”
Why do you think older people become isolated and how can this be avoided?
“Today people don’t have the time to spend with elderly parents, both parents are working, kids have lots of activities and elderly relatives are left to look after themselves more than they used to. Added to this, friends, spouses and siblings pass away and they are left at home alone more than ever, which is no-one’s fault. Today our culture thinks it has become time poor so a daily or weekly visit is at times not a priority for family members to visit the elderly in our society.
This is why home care has become such as valuable service. There are many other elderly people in the same situation, and we connect them through our social programs. People find purpose and meaning through new friendships and activities when they realise, they are not alone.
Families also need to come to terms with the fact they don’t need to struggle through this alone, we are here to help and there are many support services available. Families often feel guilty because they don’t have the time to provide the social interaction their parents want and this sense of guilt compounds, so does loneliness.
We can help elderly parents use their home care package to be more social. This may include going for a walk, going grocery shopping together, taking a drive, shopping for clothes, joining a social group – anything they need. These outings make a significant difference.
If your parent already has a home care package, it is very important to use it for the reason it is intended, to improve the quality of their life.”
What changes do you see when people have companionship?
“Our clients live a better life, they actually light up and have more energy. They lift themselves out of sad or depressed states, they have less health problems, and they improve their mental, emotional, and physical health and wellbeing.
One of our clients lives in a remote rural community with her son. She lives with dementia and without help and limited social connection, home life was becoming difficult for both of them. Her son reached out for support, and we developed a home care plan that took a great weight of his shoulders. She is happier and enjoying social events regularly, and home life has improved considerably for both mother and son.
Once they reached out for help, they realised what they had been missing out on. They now receive a range of aged care services including respite care which is organised through their home care package.”
What do you love about your work?
“I love that we make a positive difference in people’s lives. That’s why we do what we do. When the elderly are looked after in our community, the rest of us feel more positive about growing older too. We take great care and deliver our services with our 4 values at the forefront of our mind. We take the time to talk with them and to find out what they want, keeping their dignity, showing respect and always giving them a choice. I feel very supported at St Louis Home Care to deliver the services in a way that makes my job enjoyable. I have a great team around me, that I know will support me to do the work I do in the community.”
Call St Louis to enquire about our home care social programs in Adelaide and Victor Harbor
Do you need some support with your elderly parent? We’re here to help. Call St Louis Home Care in Adelaide on 8332 0950 and St Louis Home Care in Victor Harbor on 8552 1481 to find out about our home care social programs. We update our social event calendar every month and you can find them here.