Julie and Leonie’s story – living well with dementia in residential care

Each person’s Montefiore Experience is as individual as they are. For Julie, it means knowing that her mother Leonie is supported to live with dignity and wellbeing in Residential Care while facing rapid-onset dementia. Here she shares their journey.

One day last March, on her way to pick up my kids, my mother Leonie reversed out of my driveway and accidently bumped my neighbour’s car. The following week, she went to leave a shopping centre car park and forgot how to drive. Two kind strangers helped her, one driving her car home and the other following. After a few months, she could no longer remember how to write and shuffled her feet instead of walking. After many medical investigations, we were told she had dementia with Parkinson’s Disease-like symptoms.

The world was turned upside down for our close family, as Mum rapidly continued to deteriorate until she needed support 24/7 and was having frightening hallucinations. When an ACAT (Aged Care Assessment team) decided she was unable to return home from hospital, they asked where we would like to send her. “I don’t know, I guess Montefiore – that’s for the Jewish community,” I said. We had no idea what to expect as none of us had even visited Montefiore before. Pattie the social worker came out the next day – what an absolute angel. She explained the process to my brother, sister, husband and me, arranged a visit to Randwick for us, and made sure Mum understood what was happening and got her consent.

When we arrived at the high-care Nursing Home area on Level 4, the nurses and residents were all smiling, happy and busy with activities. The rooms were large, bright and airy. Though everything went smoothly with the move, I won’t lie – it took time for Mum to settle in. She had been taken out of her home and not because she wanted to leave, but because she had to. The staff have been incredible at working through all of this with her, making her comfortable and happy in her new home. She stopped having hallucinations and started smiling and laughing again.

Mum now goes to challah baking every Friday which I help with, and the grandkids all look forward to eating her delicious challah with cinnamon and choc chips when we bring Mum to one of our houses every Friday night. She has always been a talented artist and has her paintings hung all around her room, so her highlight is art therapy sessions she attends with the amazing Ruth, Jodi and Aviva. I join her on Tuesdays.

The Montefiore Experience for Leonie has been one that has helped her regain her dignity and live a full, happy and social life where she is completely cared for, especially now we have learned that she has the fast-progressing Lewy Body Dementia. For me and the family, it means we have peace of mind that we have put Mum in the hands of an incredible, professional place that is well equipped to care for her and support her as an individual.

For more information on the new Randwick Dementia Living area or to arrange a tour, please contact the Residential Accommodation team.

Phone 02 8345 9135
Email residential@montefiore.org.au