Paul Morton’s mother, Beverley Nielsen, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2015 at the relatively young age of 72. The disease was barely noticeable when Beverley made the transition from family home into a retirement village.
“Mum was very social and engaged,” explains Paul, “so the retirement village setting was perfect for her at that stage, with a community around her and many activities going on.”
Over the following three years though, incidents began to occur that let Paul know that the situation had changed, and that new plans had to be made for Beverley.
“There were a couple of incidents that happened,” says Paul.
“She was wandering, and brought home at one point after being found at the railway station.
“I was alerted by the retirement village, by neighbours and the local bank manager once, who had noted that her activities were out of ordinary and beginning to become a problem for her safety and security.”
Initial transition to the retirement village
Beverley made the move happily to the retirement village, and enjoyed it thoroughly during the time she was there, and there were no further plans for the next step at that time.
“The only plan was the retirement village,” explains Paul.
“Mum has always been a very independent person. She presents very well — she’s always immaculately dressed, bubbly and very social.
“Because the Alzheimer’s disease had progressed in such a way that her frontal lobe remained functioning while other parts of the brain were deteriorating in a less noticeable way, she was able to do all the normal things, like cooking, as well as her social activities.
“This meant that the onset of the difficulties associated with the disease presented themselves gradually, but with increasing frequency as time went on.”
As Paul began to look at the options for Beverley’s care, and it quickly became apparent to him that he did not have the time to do the research that was required — and the situation was affecting him on a personal level as well.
“I realised that I needed help,” says Paul.
“Even as a professional person, I have never gone through this process before — and I’m aware that there are many traps and pitfalls that you can easily get caught up in.”
Beginning the process with Pauline
Pauline was referred to Paul and the family through a family friend.
“Pauline’s approach was initially all business,” explains Paul, “and I appreciated that as it very much helped me at that stage to go through the process by focusing on the tasks we needed to complete to make the arrangements for Mum.”
The job of finding the right place for Beverley had fallen to Paul — as they had decided in advance during the earlier move to the retirement village and setting up of the power of attorney (POA). Beverley had clearly indicated that she wanted him to do it.
Despite having these preparations in place, it was still a hugely emotional process for Paul, and taking a bigger personal toll than expected.
The focus on facts during Pauline’s initial meeting around the table with the family helped Paul as he was coming to grips with accepting the next part of the transition for his mum.
Rapport, understanding & honesty
“I got to know Pauline more as we progressed through the visits to the various aged care facilities we were looking at for Mum,” says Paul.
“And as well as developing rapport with her as she was helping us as family, I was also able to see her rapport at work with all the people at the different aged care facilities we visited.
“Pauline is very honest, and I really appreciated her approach as I was going through the process myself of accepting the situation. She helped me greatly with encouragement and support to make the decisions that had to be made.”
Covered with Pauline’s followup service
However, the initial placement was not quite right for Beverley. Her condition was more progressed than initially realised.
When reviewing one of the permanent facilities, one of the more difficult things the family did was to visit a specialised memory support unit.
Paul explains, “We avoided this option in the initial placement, but once we had a better professional view of Mum’s situation, we simply needed to start planning for the worst case.
“This was really confronting. However, we really did need to make sure that the decision we were making was for the long term,” he says.
Beverley wasn’t happy within the first facility, and despite all the care being taken by the staff, the mainstream care placement was not able to cater properly for her long term needs. Because she presented so well, and despite the best efforts of the facility, doors were opened for her and she breached security a number of times trying to leave.
“She was a handful!” says Paul.
“The wonderful thing was how quickly Pauline was able to swing back into action and find long term care for Mum that had the right facilities in place.
“From my perspective, the care we selected was just beautiful in the way they offered both care in the mainstream — where Mum resides happily today in a very social and secure environment; as well as a separate memory support unit, where she will eventually end up in a very warm and highly personalised environment,” he explains.
As Pauline had been able to organise for a period of trial care at the first facility, the family was covered during Pauline’s followup period — where she remains in contact with both the family and the facility to make sure that the transition has been successful.
From Pauline’s first meeting with the family, the process to placement took two weeks, with the movement from the initial placement to the more suitable second facility taking only two days.
Expectations and recommendations
Pauline’s assistance met and exceeded all of Paul’s expectations of service.
“The investment in Pauline’s services has been very well spent, and she’s saved us thousands, as well as providing myself and the family with invaluable reassurance and support during the whole transition.
“I would absolutely recommend Pauline to anyone facing this situation.”
Pauline’s family-centred approach comes with firm but gentle clarity and the competence of years of experience. She’ll ease your concerns — supporting your family with all aspects of this process and allowing you to focus on your loved one.
Because she’s an independent professional, the advice she gives is based entirely on your individual circumstances — backed up by her knowledge of the system and experience in navigating it.