My name is Robert and I’m 58 years old. I used to be a professional chef. I really loved cooking Bistro food and even now, cooking is one of my big passions.
At the time of my major stroke, I was living on my yacht which meant that there was no one around to help me. I couldn’t reach my phone or call for help and was alone for 4 days before anyone found me and managed to get me to a hospital. I’ve had multiple strokes now but I’m a survivor.
Initially, I was taken to Gosford hospital and had to stay there for 100 days and nights… I actually took out the hospital record for the longest patient stay! After that, I was relocated to a Residential Aged Care Facility in Wyong which was then shut down. I then moved to another Residential Aged Care Facility in Terrigal for a further 6-month stay which was honestly painful. I really wasn’t happy there and felt I had no control over my life or decisions. I wasn’t well-supported and was socially isolated.
I felt trapped in the nursing home and couldn’t get out easily. I didn’t feel part of the outside world and it was quite distressing to me. You take even the smallest things for granted when you’re living freely; I couldn’t even choose what to eat every day. I had no say over my daily activities and wasn’t allowed anywhere near a kitchen to cook… that was really tough on me.
During this time, my friend Jo heard about Ability SDA and told me all about their apartments. She made contact with them on my behalf and set up the opportunity for an in-person tour. When I arrived, I couldn’t believe how great the apartments actually were. I couldn’t wait to move in and wanted to move out of the nursing home ASAP! Jo arranged everything and helped me with the application process. My COS Caroline and my OT also assisted with the reports I needed and helped me to secure the right equipment. It really is quite simple when someone is helping you.
The building’s onsite support team came and met with me at the RAC to discuss my support needs – both for when I first moved in and in an ongoing capacity. My support coordinator worked with the them to secure some extra things like a high-low bed, adjustable air mattress and a shower chair.
I found the process of moving in quite anxiety-provoking on a personal level. There were a lot of moving parts and things to organise to make the move possible, but I was really impressed with the way people came together to help me. I’m so grateful for their efforts and was equally grateful to get out of the RAC too.
Settling into my Ability Apartment has been a dream. I have so much space and it’s super quiet. I love sitting calmly on my balcony and enjoying the views and fresh air. I can finally cook in my own kitchen again too. Going from being a chef for so many years and simply loving to cooking to being unable to even set foot in a kitchen at the RAC was hard on me. Now I have a kitchen I love and I enjoy cooking every day – I love it! The assistive technology built into the apartment is excellent too. Alexa is great; she helps me every day.
I’ve had a few of my friends over to visit. Most of them wish they lived here too. I was isolated in the nursing home – my friends would come to visit, but it’s not the same as having them over here. My eldest daughter visits me more here too. She travels up to see me more often here than when I was in hospital and it’s great because I have a spare room so she can easily stay over. I obviously appreciate my old connections with people but I’m also thankful for the opportunity to make new ones here. I’ve got a great rapport with the onsite carers and I go out dinner with them and the other tenants in the building.
My life has changed so much since moving here. I can do my own washing and cook my own food and, most importantly, I make my own choices. I was literally trapped in the nursing home and now I’m free to go out whenever I want… I go out often! I go to hydrotherapy twice a week and see a movie every fortnight. Being able to do these activities has shifted my mindset – I am taking better care of myself and my hygiene and mental health have improved. I’m way more independent and that’s made me happier and more enthusiastic about my life and my future. I’ve set goals to improve my health and become more tech/computer savvy. I also want to get a rescue cat! There are so many opportunities for me here.
Nothing seems impossible here; moving in has given me a fresh perspective. Everything is 100% better for me. This apartment is the best thing I could ever have wished for. It’s spacious, it’s fantastic; it’s the best feeling to be free and independent here. If you’re thinking about applying, just do it! I have absolutely no regrets and know you won’t either.