Trust and companionship at heart of seniors program

Howard and David Commnwealth Home Support Program

Long games of Scrabble and a shared appreciation of Western movies are the much-anticipated fixtures of Howard and David’s weekly time together. When they stop talking, that is. 

Howard’s wife, Dorothy, often returns home to find the duo laughing together or deep in conversation as they swap stories from their shared UK heritage. 

It is a relief for Dorothy to find such a reliable and happy connection for her 85-year-old husband, who was diagnosed with dementia seven years ago. 

‘It is great to be able to have my time out knowing Howard is safe here and well looked after,’ Dorothy says. 

I can go out the door and have no worries at all. Howard looks forward to Thursdays when David comes. And it’s so important for carers to get a break. 

A Gateways Support Services Individual Support Worker, David spends five hours each week with Howard under the Commonwealth Home Support Program (CHSP). 

Through the Program, Gateways carefully matches experienced support workers with people aged over 65 who are frail aged or have dementia.  

Howard reckons Gateways’ CHSP team made a great choice when they matched him with David; although he’s careful not to be too complementary. 

‘He’s just a natural guy,’ Howard says. We are both on the same railway line. Although he is a ratbag. 

In the two years that David has been visiting Howard, the pair have developed a relaxed and jovial banter that sees the hours fly past. 

We can just talk and talk,’ David saysWe might be about to start a game of Scrabble and start talking and all of a sudden it will be an hour later. He’s a really happy guy and he is good at telling a story. 

Howard enjoys recounting tales of his childhood in the ancient border city of Carlisle where a special treat was a bag of broken biscuits from the famous Carr’s factory. He also talks about his war experiences in Egypt and his time keeping everything in order as ramp manager for Qantas.  

He also enjoys sweeping the floor with David when they play Scrabble. 

But if David ever considers feeling sorry for himself over his perpetual losses, the ever-positive Howard has some wise words of advice. 

Never let the weeds of life obscure the flowers. 

Families caring for a person aged 65 years or more, (50 years or more for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders) who is frail aged are eligible for referral to CHSP throughMY Aged Care. 

Gateways Support Services offers CHSP services in Geelong and western Melbourne. To find out more contact our Individual Support & Recreation Manager  by phoning 5221 2984 (Geelong) or 9396 1111 (western Melbourne).