A new lease on life

Physiotherapist Adele Camp is passionate about her role with Churches of Christ Care. On a daily basis, she gets to change someone’s life for the better.  

“We are keeping people mobile longer. They enjoy it and we get such satisfaction,” Adele said.

This is a feeling that is shared by others who are working to re-enable people living in our aged care services.

Allied Health Team Leader at Churches of Christ Care Buckingham Gardens Aged Care Service, Craig Wilson, has seen a transformation in both staff and residents since the opening of what has affectionately been dubbed ‘Buck’s Gym’.

The dedicated exercise room at the Alexandra Hills service looks similar to a hotel gym, but the equipment has been specifically designed for seniors.

“There’s no clunky weights, which put a lot of people off in a traditional gym setting, with the machines all working on air-pressure,” Craig said.

“Most gym equipment only allows a change of weight in five kilogram increments. Our equipment so gentle, it allows 100 gram movements, which is important in designing exercise programs for this age group.”

After a consultation with a service physiotherapist, residents are issued with a swipe card with their personalised exercise program. The card then slots into any machine, automatically setting the weight and how many repetitions they can safely lift. It also keeps a record of their regime.

The results for people using the gym are inspirational.

“We have an 86 year old who has put on muscle,” Craig explained, bringing up the exercise routine for John. “There’s a 900 per cent increase in his upper body strength.”

When Craig first met John he had a walking stick, and a cancer scare had forced the keen bushwalker off his feet while his body fought the disease. While John tried to focus on living life to the full his body had other ideas.

“In this, and so many similar situations there’s a tendency for functional decline so we need to recondition muscles,” Craig said.

“Legs and shoulders start to go from a lack of exercise, and then the mind can follow.”

John agrees.

“I was living at Cooroy [Sunshine Coast hinterland] on my own, and was used to doing a lot of walking. Family members moved abroad and interstate and then . . .” John shook his head when remembering his mindset a year ago.  

“Let’s just say, I’d be buggered without the gym. So yes, I would say coming to the gym and doing this program has given me a new lease on life.”

Craig swapped John’s walking cane for a set of taller Nordic walking sticks and he hasn’t looked back.

“He now has a purpose because he has strength back,” Craig said.

“You mean that solo bushwalk I did at Christmas?” John piped in.  

For Bryan Mason, Director of Seniors and Supported Living, these stories are what drives staff to have passion and purpose in their work.

“John could hardly lift a cup off the table. Now he is stacking the dishwasher. Then there’s the lady who was transferred from hospital, told she would never walk again. The physiotherapists started her off on a light exercise program, then eventually got her in the gym. After a couple of months she stood up on her own and walked. I mean, she was told she would never walk again,” Bryan said.

For Bryan, this focus on a person not their illness cannot be underestimated.

“The more uplift we can bring to a person, the less they are thinking about the negative, about the things they can’t do.

“We speak about meaningful purpose in the workplace and we talk about passion. I know I can speak for all the staff when I say we have a positive commitment to people’s wellbeing.”

The gym equipment will soon be rolled out to other Churches of Christ Care aged care services including Bribie Island and Moonah Park.

For more inspirational stories like this, download the latest edition of Networking.

Posted June 8, 2017 in Networking blog