After a serious fall, Colin Stracey was hesitant to leave behind the family home he shared with his beloved late wife and move into a care apartment at Belrose Country Club. Just over four years down the track, he’s never looked back.
The light of his life
Family is everything to 88-year-old retired milkman Colin Stracey. Blessed with four children, 12 grandchildren and now one great grandchild, Colin cherishes each and every moment he spends with his growing clan. The only thing missing is his beloved wife Beverley by his side.
Throughout their life together, Colin was dependent on Beverley for many things. She was a brilliant cook, a doting wife and a social butterfly that kept the couple active in their local community. She was the light of his life and when she passed away in 2010, the beacon that brightened his days sadly dimmed.
“I was very dependent on my wife… only by the kids and family being so supportive, I got through that period without being depressed,” said Colin.
After her passing, Colin moved in with his eldest daughter, Kym, and her family for a few years before returning to the family home in Frenchs Forest on his own. While Colin enjoyed the familiar surrounds of the home he’d lived in for over 50 years, the neighbourhood just wasn’t what it used to be. The friendly faces he used to pass on his walks were no longer there. Over the years, Colin began to withdraw.
Not only were the family concerned about Colin’s increasing isolation, Kym and her siblings were worried that if something serious were to happen, he wouldn’t have the immediate help on hand to make sure he was okay.
Sadly, Kym’s greatest fear became a reality when Colin suffered a serious fall while she was away on holidays, leaving him bedbound in hospital for two weeks.
“As it turned out, he was living at home at the time, went for a walk in the afternoon and tripped, fell and hit his head.
“That was when we made the decision that we needed to look for somewhere that had some support and assistance if required,” said Kym.
The family came together looking for a place that could provide a safe and secure living environment, nutritious meals and most importantly, the company Colin was missing without his wife by his side.
Knowing he was a member of the local bowls club, the family made an enquiry into Belrose Country Club, the retirement community located across the road. After speaking with the team at Belrose, they were notified a care apartment had recently become available and arrangements were made for Colin to move into the village.
Colin was initially hesitant to make the move and insisted the family hold on to their home in Frenchs Forest in the event he wanted to return.
Over four years down the track, he’s never looked back.
Finding his spark again
Having now settled in to village life at Belrose, Kym believes Colin has found his spark again and is the healthiest and happiest he’s been in years.
“Dad’s been here over four years and really the time has gone very fast. He is just such a different person, I think he is the healthiest he’s been for probably, 12 to 14 years,” said Kym.
All the support and assistance his family were looking for is right on his doorstep. Every morning, Colin’s breakfast is delivered to his care apartment, then enjoys lunch and dinner with friends in the dining room. He also receives assistance from the village team with washing and changing his linen and cleaning his apartment, as well as applying lotion to his feet and legs daily.
“The staff here are very helpful and very co-operative and very considerate,” said Colin.
But for Kym, it’s the comfort of knowing that help is available any time of day that’s the most important thing to her and her family.
“Knowing that there’s someone on duty 24 hours a day, gives us peace of mind,” said Kym.
From social recluse to man about the village, Kym notes that Colin’s diary is full to the brim with activities scheduled every day of the week.
“He has a busier social life than what I do – and my family put together probably!” said Kym.
Since moving to Belrose, Colin has become a croquet connoisseur, honing his skills with a game every morning. He also plays cards and mahjong a few times a week, is a regular at the bowls club across the road and keeps physically active by going for lots of walks around the village. In fact, in October 2021, Colin walked a total of 185 kilometres over the month to raise funds for the Black Dog Institute.
“He is extremely active; his mind is still very sharp but the most important thing for me is that he’s happy,” said Kym.
And happy he certainly is – especially on a Thursday and Friday afternoon.
“I do enjoy Happy Hour because you get together with some of the people in the Club who you normally don’t see much of and you get to know people,” said Colin.
I should have moved sooner
Colin admits he should have considered moving into a retirement community a lot sooner.
“I probably would have been better off if I had come here earlier, but since I’ve come here, I’ve developed a lot and I’m more outgoing than what I was before I came here,” said Colin.
Kym is delighted they were able to find Colin a new home that provided the care, support and company he needed in this next chapter of his life.
“If he was still at home, living by himself, that happiness and that joy that you can see on his face, certainly wouldn’t be there,” said Kym.
Colin is thankful his family helped him make the move to Belrose, stating he “Wouldn’t want to be a burden in my older age”. Kym lovingly shakes her head and responds through misty eyes,
“I look at the fact that he and my Mum raised four children and did absolutely everything they could for us … so to me, Dad will never be a burden. It’s just my way to show my appreciation to him.
“To know that dad is so happy, it’s priceless,” said Kym.