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Helping 84-year-old Pat to read has been life-changing

Written by Elizabeth Blooms, Senior Manager (Health Services) with integratedliving

84-year-old Pat was never much of a bookworm but it all changed when he joined our Short-Term Restorative Care program. Read more about Pat's story.

Once a farmer, 84-year-old client Pat had never learned to read and when his wife passed away, he relied on friends to read bills and other important documents for him.   

The once joyful and fun-loving resident of Shellharbour community in New South Wales, started to feel dependent on other people for assistance, but also quite lonely and isolated.   

“I never learnt to read. When I was a kid at school, I couldn’t read so they used to send two or three of us out into the garden when it was reading time. It’s just what they did back in those days,” recalled Pat.

Not that those visits to the garden were fruitless, as Pat later turned his hand to farming and became a very accomplished sheep and cattle farmer in Parkes, NSW, with over 1,000 acres to manage.

It’s only in his older years when he moved to Shellharbour that he needed some extra support to make his life more enjoyable and a little easier.

Pat was assessed for our Short-Term Restorative Care program to help with mobility issues and also improve his emotional and mental wellbeing by connecting him to his local community.   

What is Short-Term Restorative Care?

Short-Term Restorative Care (or STRC) is an early intervention program designed for older people to help prevent or reduce any problems with completing daily tasks such as bathing, feeding, dressing, shopping or driving. It can include occupational therapy, physiotherapy, nurse support, personal care, provision of technologies to help with daily tasks, and minor home modifications. If you are assessed under MyAged Care for STRC aged care funding, a program of assisted care will typically run for up to eight weeks with a maximum of two courses per year.

With the support of one of our occupational therapists, physiotherapists, social workers and Senior Health Coach, Sharron McNeil, Pat’s quality of life started to improve.  

A simple idea turned into a great solution when Social Worker, Kerry Hudson, sourced a special scanner pen to help Pat with his literacy issues.   

Using this new reading tool, Pat now goes to the local library and has made friends with the librarian, who is guiding him through some easy readers.  

Pat is pleased to report that he is on to his fifth book – “Alexander The Great” (Year 5 level) – and he could not be happier. His mood has lifted enormously and he loves reading books and going to the library. It’s a great outing for him, allowing him to meet other people, as well as providing cognitive stimulation through learning.   

“I enjoy going to the library. All the staff are really lovely and help me to choose books,” he said.

“I’m finding I can even read the words on the television screen now. I never used to be able to do that, but now I can remember them from seeing them in books and my scanner pen reading them out loud.”

Unfortunately, on ANZAC Day, Pat had a setback when he slipped off the edge of his bed onto the floor. Unable to pick himself up due to the immense pain he was in, it took Pat six gruelling hours to pull himself around to the other side of the bed to reach his phone.

“I was thinking to myself, this is ANZAC Day and if those poor soldiers had to pull themselves through the trenches and everything they went through, then I can do it too,” he recalled.

With sheer determination and courage, Pat was able to make it to his phone and call an ambulance for help. Fortunately, he didn’t break any bones, but had taken some skin off his arms and legs pulling himself across the floor.

After a short stint in hospital, Pat is happy to be back home again. Through the STRC program, he now has a more comfortable mattress and armchair to help with his pressure ulcers, as well as a medical alert necklace should he need to call for assistance.

Ready for his next challenge, Pat is combining his happy-go-lucky nature with some fine woodworking skills, to return to another passion of his – building wooden farm sets for children, complete with barns, stables, sheds and fencing.

“I’ve made about 6 of these in the past, but this latest one I’m going to now finish and send to the Children’s Hospital in Sydney so they can raffle it and raise money,” he said.

It looks like Pat has found himself something to do and something to look forward to: essential ingredients for lifting his spirits. His fun-loving sense of humour has certainly been a great asset too! Good on you Pat!

Learn how our Short-Term Restorative Care program can help you live well