Eileen, 86 has always been a determined woman.
A ’10-pound Pom’, Eileen was pregnant with her second child when she arrived in Australia from England in 1958 with her husband Les and her young son.
They called the Brooklyn Migrant Hostel home, which Eileen described as “very grim.” Her young family lived in a Nissen hut, filled with other post-war migrants.
“I didn’t tell my father about our situation,” she laughed, “or he would’ve come over and taken me back home himself! Fortunately, we got along very well with our neighbours.”
Camaraderie is still important to Eileen, which is why she enjoys the lifestyle of her residential village unit in Wantirna, where she and Les lived together until his death in 2011.
“Social connections are very important to me. I’m very lucky to be here as I could still be living at home with no help and nobody around to talk to.”
Eileen has mobility issues, and her vision is affected by Macular Degeneration. She has been supported with a Home Care Package (HCP) from VMCH since 2012. HCPs are government-funded packages of care services designed to help older people remain living at home for longer.
Through her HCP Eileen receives assistance with the cleaning, personal shopping and medical appointments, plus funding for her scooter, walker and Vision Australia aids and equipment. The services and assistance that Eileen receives ensures she remains independent and engaged in her community.
Keeping active is very important to Eileen, she walks where she can for the exercise and regularly swims in the village indoor pool. She is also a regular attendee on the day trips coordinated by the retirement village, as well as local Council funded trips to places such as Werribee Zoo and Mount Martha.
Having the support from her VMCH HCP Case Manager, Rebecca, and the village community is a major factor in maintaining Eileen’s independence.
“Rebecca has organised (the supported assistance and equipment) for me. I am very fond of her. She helps me with the funding depending on what I need. She has done a lot for me, and I know I can contact her if I ever need any help, or if I want something changed.”
Confident in her independence, Eileen also recently travelled to Perth, alone, to meet childhood friends from her hometown of Leek. Despite her health issues, she has no concerns.
“You just have to be determined in life. There are people a lot worse off than me, and you feel sorry for them. There’s no point feeling sorry for yourself, nobody wants to hear that.
“You just have to do it!”