New Melbourne precinct takes ageing in place to the next level

Graham Archer personifies Calvary Kooyong’s long-held vision and underlying care concept to support its residents and patients to live well and meet their changing health or social needs.

“This whole place really is a total package,” says Graham, whose world changed dramatically when he was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease.

“I’ve received so much benefit from this concept of Calvary’s, and the positive attitude of everyone around me whose whole approach is ‘we’re here to help’.

The new $154 million Calvary Kooyong precinct opened in January and takes the concept of ageing in place to a new level.

The landmark precinct in Melbourne’s Caulfield South brings together retirement living, aged care, GP and other health services, access to home care, and specialist sub-acute hospital services all in one location.

And it is all designed to meet people’s changing needs – whether they are living in the Hyson retirement units, the Huntly Suites aged care home, or are receiving care at Calvary Bethlehem hospital, a specialist palliative care service and Victoria’s state wide provider of services for people living with progressive neurological conditions.

“It is a progressive and very holistic concept of care that centres on the needs of the diverse range of people who will be living here,” Calvary Kooyong General Manager, Shannon Thompson said.

“I don’t think there is anything quite like it.”

Graham agrees.

Graham’s Story

Graham was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease last October after initially experiencing difficulty using his right hand. By December he had become a patient with Calvary Bethlehem and soon realised that he would not be able to live at home on his own any more. His concerns about where he would live and how he would cope quickly mounted.

But his move with other patients to Calvary Bethlehem’s new sub-acute hospital at the Calvary Kooyong precinct in early January proved a game changer for the former Puffing Billy Railway administrator. It opened up options that Graham had never thought possible – the chance to live in a place he could call home again, and receive the care he needs on the same site.

“It broke me up. I didn’t think there was a chance any of that could happen, and they made it all happen so quickly and so smoothly,” he said.

Last week Graham became one of the first to move into the Huntly Suites aged care home on site.

“You just can’t imagine how I feel. I’ve been blown away by the care and people at Bethlehem and here at the new precinct site. Everyone is so focussed on doing the best for me. The whole philosophy is geared towards maximising the care and what independence I can achieve within the limits of my condition and ability.”

There is much that the keen stamp collector, gardener and traveller can no longer do, but he’s not giving up and is instead taking a positive attitude and leaning on the support of his adult children and the staff at Calvary Kooyong and MND Victoria.

“I’ve just had to accept it. It has been hard, but I recognised that I could never live alone again. I also can’t drive again. My right arm is virtually useless now for doing much, especially anything involving fine motor skills, and I’ve now only got about 50% use of my left arm.

“I struggle with a lot of things – cutting things up, doing up buttons, zippers, opening packets, bottle caps, writing. So many simple things that I took for granted all my life. I get so frustrated now because it takes me ages to even get dressed.

“But I have decided that I’m going to do the very best I can with what I have got. I’m not going to crawl into a hole and give up.

“The positive attitude of everyone around me, it rubs off.”