June Taylor is celebrating Mother’s Day this year in a very different kind of world than she’s ever known before. June is 82 and moved to Tumut two years ago from Sussex Inlet, to be closer to her son, Brad. Last March she moved into Bupa, and later that month, Covid-19 restrictions put an end to face-to-face visits in NSW aged care facilities.
“Which certainly made it a little bit more complicated, not being able to go see her as part of her transition to living there,” said Brad.
“She isn’t a local, so she didn’t really know anybody until she moved in.”
Despite the expected start to her time at Bupa, Brad said his mother has been thriving at her new home.
“I’m much happier with her being in there than living independently,” he said. “She looks far healthier now.
“It’s actually given her a good opportunity to build relationships there, which may not have been as easy if we had been able to visit.”
Brad said the coronavirus lockdown has perhaps encouraged his mother and other Bupa residents to rely on each other and build relationships within the facility, since their friends and family haven’t been able to visit in-person and phone or video calls can sometimes be difficult.
“I think it’s a great reflection on Bupa and the home there that they are able to get over some of those initial issues that people have there when they first move in.
“She certainly looks well and cared for.”
Since restrictions were lifted just over a week ago on Friday, May 1, allowing one person at a time to visit a Bupa resident (wearing protective clothing and providing evidence of a recent flu shot), Brad has been to see his mum four times, including a visit for Mother’s Day.
“The mask and gloves and the extra requirements initially were probably a bit confronting for mum,” he said. “To see you turn up and suddenly you’re masked up. Trying to understand why that’s happening was difficult for her initially.”
However, with Brad being able to get into the facility, he’s been able to help connect June with her sister and her daughter via video calling.
“You’re limited to your half-hour visit,” he said, which makes it tight, but the video calling “makes sure everyone gets that opportunity to wish her a happy Mother’s Day.”
One of those videos calls crossed oceans and cultures to connect with Brad’s sister who lives in New York State; not in New York City itself, but within driving distance.
“They have a lot of cases there and it’s certainly had a massive impact on their way of life,” said Brad. “Certainly a lot more shut down than we are here in Australia.”
Despite the distance, and the strangeness of it all, Brad said the family has been connecting well and catching up on the weeks that they’ve been largely out of contact with June.
“We certainly understand why the restrictions are in place,” said Brad, adding that it’s been difficult for his teenage kids to not be able to see their grandmother.
“More than anything you’re concerned about your parent’s wellbeing while they’re in there, and we appreciate the care that’s been provided.
“The staff were able to give updates on how things were going and that Mum was alright, but it’s not until you can get back in the door and see how she’s doing that you really feel comfortable.”