Although life has looked quite different for our residents in recent months, we have seen many of our communities continually raise the bar when it comes to supporting one another.
One of these communities is Mountain View Retirement Village, our beautiful retirement community in Murwillumbah, where residents and staff have taken the pandemic in their stride and proven just how neighbourly and caring their community really is.
To find out more, we reached out to Maureen, resident at Mountain View, to hear her story and how life had changed in her community.
From nomad to settler
Bitten by the travel bug early, Maureen has lived a lifestyle of culture and adventure.
“I’ve been a gypsy since I was eighteen, so I was always on the move. I moved from town to town, and sometimes even across the world – it made no difference to me.
“My two children are different; they are no strangers to travel, but they are more grounded and have enjoyed living in the same house, in the same town, for many years.
“But they can’t say they didn’t see a lot of places in the process!”
At the age of 61, Maureen moved out to Central Queensland to continue a career in teaching, supporting students with disabilities, their teachers and their parents.
“I was driving between six schools – most about an hour from my base school – to support students with disabilities.
The hours were long but the reward of making a difference to the lives of those families, made it worthwhile.”
However, after years of hard work in Central Queensland and dealing with the loss of her husband, Maureen realised that it was time for a change.
“I realised just how tired I was. I’d been working mostly ten-hour days at school, as well as taking a truck load of work home at night, for about eight years.
“Retirement suddenly looked more attractive.”
Maureen was on a flight to Brisbane the very next day. On arrival, she quickly hired a car and headed south to Murwillumbah to take a tour of Mountain View, a community she had visited only once before when catching up with a friend.
“I was flabbergasted by how different it was in real life.
“The most amazing difference was the people I met. Everyone was friendly and there was a real sense of community.
Falling in love with one of the units, Maureen quickly made an offer and reached an agreement with Aveo to secure her new home. It’s a move she hasn’t regretted since.
“From the day I moved in at the end of 2015, I was convinced this was the best move I’d ever made.
“This is my safe haven, my home, my community.”
Keeping residents safe
One of the biggest concerns about COVID-19 is the impact that it would have on seniors, particularly those living in a retirement or aged care community.
At Aveo, this concern quickly evolved into the implementation of a range of health and wellbeing procedures designed to protect residents, staff and visitors to communities.
For Maureen, these new procedures were crucial to keeping everyone at her community safe.
“When the restrictions were first imposed, Aveo was quick to add security personnel to key areas of Mountain View. They spared no expense in attempting to keep everyone safe.
“Our community staff have also been fantastic! They delivered meals to residents, which eliminated the need to shop and provided some contact during the initial isolation period.
“Our Community Manager kept residents informed of any changes to restrictions; neighbours checked on neighbours to make sure they were okay. Even the girls in the office made sure they checked in on residents who might not have had an immediate support network.”
But the thing that Maureen believes had the biggest impact throughout restrictions is the community Craft Shop.
“Coral, our tireless resident, has shopped for stock and increased the range held in the store. Our residents could go to the Craft Shop to buy grocery items including eggs, chocolate, flour, toilet rolls, ice-cream, and even pasta.
“I don’t know how Coral did it, but she kept the supplies up to the needs of our community. There was no need to risk going into town to shop – we could get it all right here.”
Where neighbours become friends
With big smiles and even bigger hearts, Aveo residents and staff across the country have sung and danced their way together through these uncertain times.
It is an enduring community spirit that Maureen has experienced firsthand in her own community.
“Just having neighbours who know each other well, and are like extended family, is reassuring.
“When I lived in suburbia, I had neighbours I’d never met. Here at Mountain View, my immediate neighbours look out for each other.
“We have a ritual of going out for coffee when it is one of our birthdays, because we know that family can’t always get here to visit, especially now.
“But otherwise, we get the washing in for each other if it looks like rain, we share something we’ve made, or just meet for a chat on the balcony. And if we are worried about someone – we check on them.”
The perfect place to call home
Maureen is confident that moving into a retirement community is one of the best moves she has ever made.
“If we could have convinced my mum to move into somewhere like this in her seventies, or earlier, I think she would have been happier and lived longer.
“If you want a lifestyle where you can grow older in a caring extended family, this is it.”
When asked if she feels the same given the current impact of the pandemic, Maureen stood firmly behind her decision.
“I felt safer knowing that regulating visitors meant increased safety for me and residents with compromised health issues.
“My daughter was particularly concerned about my safety because I am in the ‘vulnerable’ age group. She was grateful for the measures that were in place to keep everyone safe.
“My neighbours and I commented early on in the restrictions that we were so glad we were in the best possible place to wait out the pandemic.
“We wouldn’t want to have been anywhere else but here, at Mountain View, Murwillumbah.”