Mr Couch is no couch potato

There’s not much George Smith doesn’t know about making furniture – especially lounge suites.

The highly-skilled furniture maker left South Africa over 40 years ago, and landed a job in the industry less than 48 hours after arriving in Melbourne. And up until his retirement ten years ago, he’s been designing and making furniture – mainly lounge suites –at businesses in both Melbourne and Bendigo, where he now lives.

“The kids bought their own lounge suites when they moved out,” the 76-year-old laughs, “and we used the furniture my wife inherited. So, the only thing I’ve made for the family home is a wardrobe.”

George, who is widowed, has diabetes and arthritis in his hands, and gets help with the housework and gardening thanks to his Home Care Package with Uniting AgeWell.

But although he makes couches, George is certainly no couch potato! He’s a member of the Probus Club, meets a group of friends every Friday for dinner, plays lawn bowls and loves reading. He volunteers at St Paul’s Cathedral, and he and his wife Peggy both volunteered at St John of God Bendigo Hospital.

“Uniting AgeWell is very caring,” George says. “They’re so helpful, so kind … and their support means I can carry on living at home. I’ve lived here 19 years; it’s a big house with a big garden, but it’s comfortable and it’s where I want to be.”

He happily drives to the supermarket to go “hunting and gathering” frozen meals, which he heats in the microwave. But should he want home prepared meals there are options available through Uniting AgeWell.

George is among the growing number of Home Care Package clients from the greater Bendigo area and the Shires of Central Goldfields, Loddon, Buloke, Campaspe, Mt Alexander and Macedon Ranges.

Growth of Home Care Package clients is up over 27 per cent since the start of last year, says Uniting AgeWell Loddon Mallee Community Program Manager Kaylene DeWacht, who explains that many older people needed – and continue to need – extra care and support during COVID-19.

And families too! Uniting AgeWell offers respite care both in the home, for weekends at Seven Hills Respite House in White Hills and for longer stays at Strath-Haven Community.

“Carer stress is very real, especially during COVID,” Kaylene says, “and we are there to help.”

There are also a huge variety of services to suit your needs either through your Home Care Package or as a privately funded service.

You can get your shopping done for you – including picking up any medications from the pharmacy, or you can receive physiotherapy or other allied health services at home. You can get help with cooking, with personal care, you can use your package to buy equipment like walkers or electric beds to make living at home that much safer and easier.

Another service is the video calling tablet which Uniting AgeWell lends free to clients who don’t have one. The tablet comes with inbuilt internet connection, also at no cost, plus a simple step-by-step guide on how to use it. The video-calling tablet proved invaluable to many clients during previous periods of home isolation, with many reporting they thoroughly enjoyed zooming with friends and family.

To find out more about Home Care Packages and respite care at home, call Uniting AgeWell’s Home Care team in Bendigo on (03) 5454 2100. Or for longer respite care phone Strath-Haven Community on (03) 5434 3000.