When Brightwater Care Group’s newest aged care home opened last year, Rafaela Arias became, in her own words, its first Queen.
Perhaps it was because Rafaela was the first woman to move into the facility, or maybe it was that on her first day, she seated herself at the head of the dining table as naturally as if Brightwater Inglewood had been her home all along.
Either way, when it was suggested Rafaela might change tables to sit with some newer residents, the 92 year old firmly declined, recalls her daughter Dolly Romano.
“She said in her best English, ‘I'm not moving from here. This is my family. I'm the queen, and they're my family,’ and that was that,” says Dolly with a chuckle.
It was a relief to Dolly and her four siblings that Rafaela settled into Brightwater Inglewood so well. They have no doubt it was due to the sense of community that quickly developed between staff, residents and even the residents’ families. From day one, everyone was committed to ensuring there was a true sense of being at home together.
Dolly says it was obvious that for the staff, it was more than just a job—it was an integral part of who they are.
“The facility manager would say to me, ‘Your mum is part of our family now,’ and Mum certainly felt it, and that filters through to all the family members,” says Dolly.
Family meant everything to Rafaela, who had moved to Perth from Spain in the 1960s with her husband and three sons. Together they built a good life in their new home, where they welcomed two daughters to the family. Over time, the family of five grew to include 14 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.
About a year ago, Rafaela’s health began to decline, and the family started exploring options for the increased level of care she needed. But it was only when they toured the newly opened Brightwater Inglewood that they knew they had found the right place for their beloved mother.
State of the art and all heart
Centrally located in Perth’s inner suburbs, Brightwater Inglewood provides high quality care for people with a range of diverse needs. The two upper floors feature state-of-the-art private rooms with ensuite bathrooms, landscaped courtyards and spacious communal areas. On the ground floor there is a gym, hairdresser and even a coffee shop. The ground floor also houses the state-of-the-art Brightwater Research Centre and Brightwater’s Head Office, ensuring a focus on innovation and quality care.
The building is carefully designed to harness the latest technology with one aim in mind: to enhance the wellbeing of residents and staff by creating and maintaining an environment where people feel comfortable, calm, safe and secure.
It’s the people who make it home
For Dolly and her mum, a good life at Brightwater Inglewood came down to the people who lived and worked there, united in a caring and close-knit community.
Rafaela moved into her bright and spacious room on the first floor in October last year, and it didn’t take her long to share her enthusiasm for life with her new friends, both residents and staff.
“Mum had both knees replaced many years ago and she couldn't walk properly. But any time anyone put on Spanish music, she would get up and dance. One day I got an email from Brightwater with a video showing mum doing a Spanish dance with one of her beautiful Therapy Assistants. When I asked mum how she managed to dance with her knees, she said, 'Well I was just teaching the rest of my family how to do Spanish dancing,’” says Dolly.
Dolly says the feeling of community at Brightwater Inglewood also extended to family members who visited, and she cites this as an important factor in choosing an aged care home.
“If the family is happy to come here and be part of it, it means everything because then they will visit all the time. So the loved one benefits, and so does everyone else,” she says.
Sadly, Rafaela passed away in March, just before her 93rd birthday but her family takes comfort in knowing her final months were filled with happiness and a sense of belonging.
“We all had 6 wonderful months with Mum at Brightwater, quality time, at peace knowing she was well cared for in every way,” says Dolly.
Dolly says that although her mum’s time at Inglewood was not long, Rafaela and her family appreciated that caring approach every step of the way.
“Being part of that community made our experience of farewelling our mum just the most amazing one you could ever hope for. They weren't just people around her. They were her family, which is beautiful.”