For the past year or so we have driven down the main street of Port Elliot and observed the transformation of an old primary school into a magnificent aged care centre.
In response to a well established need for additional aged care services in the Fleurieu, the $28 million development by Resthaven Incorporated comes with tasteful architecture design and technical brilliance to provide varied levels of care services, including respite for up to 94 older people requiring assistance with their health and care needs.
The complex will be staffed by up to 120 people, and overall it is the most significant development in this stunning seaside tourist town, and is blending in well.
However, if we peer beyond the actual building due for completion in May and personalise what this is all about we can see something special. It is perhaps the greatest lesson since the first teacher grated chalk across the blackboard at this former Port Elliot Primary School site in 1853. It is about the people who will reside here – they just happen to be older than most.
Resthaven is a large not-for profit organisation with a long history in proving outstanding care to older South Australians. In fact, Resthaven Port Elliot is the organisations eleventh residential care site, committed to providing exemplary service to more than 1000 older people and their families. In addition to the care provided in residential environment, Resthaven also provides in-home care and support options throughout metropolitan Adelaide, the Adelaide Hills, Riverland, Murraylands, Fleurieu and across the Limestone Coast.
Pamela Alde (pictured), of Strathalbyn, who has a long list of academic credits but tends to talk more about her team, is the manager residential care services for Resthaven Inc Port Elliot. This appointment follows her resounding success in developing a similar aged care development in Mount Gambier three years ago.
Pamela explained that her introduction to caring for older people began some 25 years ago at Resthaven where she worked as a personal carer. After completing formal studies in nursing and pursuing an academic career that spanned a decade she returned to Resthaven where she felt she could “better utilise her skills and passion for care of older people.” Pamela fondly recalled how she felt valued as a member of the Resthaven community, adding that this hadn’t changed.
Interestingly, Pamela doesn’t see this latest venture as a competition with similar already located facilities. She talks instead of the need for all to work closely and collaboratively together to serve the older members of the community, and to engage close links with community services to implement an effective overall program.“This is not about us, but the older members of our community,” she says.
Pamela’s special talent lay in practising the core values of the Resthaven creed – We respect and value older people, treasuring their wisdom. She said it was a privilege to be in the position to provide care and/or service to another. “Older people have so much that they contribute,” she said.
Pamela indicated she was aware that for many the need for residential aged care was not something that people generally welcomed; adding that the very transition itself was often a time fraught with anxiety and sadness.
Despite this, a comment she frequently receives from older people and their families once they have settled into their new home is that they wish they had considered the move earlier. “Residential care can indeed be a rewarding and highly satisfying experience,” Pamela said.