Finding a community that provided the care that 92-year-old Norm Strickland needed and the independence that wife Margery desired seemed an impossible task… until they came across Magill Retirement Village.
As a vivacious young dancer, Margery Ross was quite literally swept off her feet by the strapping Norm Strickland, who waltzed into her life when they were paired together in a ballroom dancing competition.
The rest, as they say, is history and the couple were married in 1951 and had three children; a son Steven, who sadly passed away at only 10 weeks old, daughter Alison and son Brett.
Fresh into their 70’s, Margery and Norm decided it was time to call it quits on the endless upkeep that went hand-in-hand with home ownership. The maintenance on their home in Ridgehaven was becoming a nuisance, and – for a couple that had experienced both love and loss in their time together – they knew life was too short to spend every Sunday mowing.
The Mixed 4-Tunes and a Green Thumb
After taking a spin around their local area, they came across Tea Tree Gardens Retirement Village. From Tai Chi to Aqua Aerobics to Croquet to Marching Club, Margery and Norm were blown away by all the activities on offer.
And before they’d even switched on the kettle, the Stricklands had dived headfirst into village life.
“Dad was President of the Neighbourhood Watch and on the Resident’s Committee and Mum was the treasurer for the monthly bus trips and a member of the Garden Club.
“Dad also set up a barbershop quartet called ‘The Mixed 4-Tunes’ who performed for the community and were so popular they were hired for other functions outside the village as well,” said daughter Alison.
Time to make a change
After sixteen years living life to the fullest at Tea Tree Gardens, Norm’s health began to slowly decline. Day by day, it was becoming harder for him to zip around the village like he used to and Margery began to struggle to provide the care Norm needed.
The family knew it was time to make a change.
Norm was adamant he didn’t want to move into a nursing home, but understood his care needs were gradually becoming too much for Margery to manage on her own.
The couple sat down with their daughter Alison to discuss their options. For Margery and Norm, the most important consideration was the ability to stay as close together as possible. The prospect of living in different postcodes after 64 years of marriage was simply out of the question.
Like many family members supporting their loved ones through this next chapter of life, Alison spent many hours researching care options close to her own home. During her search, she came across Magill Retirement Village, also operated by RetireAustralia.
“I did a lot of research, mostly around the Magill area as we wanted something close to where I live. I drove Mum and Dad around and we all liked the look of Magill. It’s a very pretty village, and they really liked that,” said Alison.
Looking closer into the nuts and bolts of the village, Alison found that Magill offered residents the option of care apartments, independent living units, as well as independent ‘flexi’ units. Magill Village Manager, Debra Grant, explains,
“We’re very fortunate at Magill to be able to offer a range of living options to our residents.
“Our independent living units allow residents to be fully independent or utilise our services and homecare packages, while our independent “flexi” units are located close to the care centre, are a little smaller to look after and you have the option to receive assistance with meals, services or homecare packages, or be fully independent.
“Finally, our care apartments offer all support services for daily living and care under the main roof, with staff always close at hand,” said Debra.
Digging further, Alison also discovered that staying within the RetireAustralia family of villages meant that Margery and Norm didn’t have to pay an additional exit fee at Magill after moving from Tea Tree Gardens.
This meant the family could afford both a care apartment for Norm and an independent flexi unit for Margery – the perfect solution to accommodate Norm’s higher care needs without Margery losing her independence.
Plus, the village was only a short three-minute drive from Alison.
“We didn’t want Dad to move into a nursing home – and frankly, he didn’t want to either. He wasn’t that bad at the time. It was more his mobility than anything else. Not having the exit fee meant we were able to secure both accommodation options for Mum and Dad – that was crucial in our decision-making,” said Alison.
Not only was there financial benefit to moving within RetireAustralia, but the familiarity of village life in a RetireAustralia community was also important to Margery and Norm. The faces around the village may have changed, but the genuine care and compassion for the couple remained.
The comfort of knowing help is at hand
After twelve months spending time with Margery in the comfort of his care apartment, Norm sadly passed away in 2016.
After Norm’s passing, Margery decided to remain in her own unit, receiving assistance from RetireAustralia’s Home Care team after becoming eligible for a government funded Home Care Package in early 2020.
But as the years went on – and her own health needs became more pronounced – Margery began to feel a pang of loneliness and vulnerability living alone.
Finding the single care apartments too compact but wanting the comfort of knowing help was closer at hand, Margery was conflicted about making the move into the care centre. But fate showed its hand when a double care apartment became available in April 2021 – one half being Norm’s former apartment where they shared precious memories before his passing.
“That was what really made me decide to move into the care centre. I was going into the same room as him. It was very appropriate and comforting. I moved in as if it was just another room in our house really,” said Margery.
Both Margery and Alison agreed that having your higher care needs met in the community you already call home helps make life a lot less stressful,
“Once Mum saw how it worked here, she always said, ‘When I need to – I really want to go into the care centre rather than a nursing home’.
“Having the ability to move from an independent unit to higher care within the one village is fantastic. There is no change of staff, no change of where you are. Your local community, the shopping centre, the people around you, they all remain the same. And that familiarity takes the stress out of what can often be a very stressful time of life,” said Alison.
“Alison said that as exactly as I would have if I were younger!” Margery chimes in,
“I’d be lost without her.”
Care that moves in harmony with the tide of life
From their starry-eyed first dance to their last, Margery and Norm were a dynamic duo that spent their days lapping up all life had to offer. For almost 17 years, the couple laughed, loved and lived across two retirement communities, with care and support that moved in harmony with the tide of their lives.
As their health ebbed and flowed, they were able to access the care they needed in the comfort of their own homes and the familiar surrounds of their beloved communities.
Something that, at 92 years young, Margery reflects on fondly,