As 2020 draws to a close, Lachie Green reflects on how BallyCara has made the most of a “once-in-a-lifetime” year.
I think it’s fair to say that 20-20 vision was impossible for the year 2020. “Unprecedented”, “extraordinary”, and “once-in-a-lifetime” will all be cemented as the norm for describing the year behind us. Those of us that regularly send and/or receive emails have become intimately familiar with some form of the following email starter: “Dear X, I hope you’re staying well through these tumultuous times…”
2020 has been a year that will be remarkably difficult to forget, although there are many aspects that some of us would prefer to.
However, there are those entities that seriously bucked the trend of 2020. BallyCara, and many of our staff, Friends and Family, have (thankfully) been those that have continued to strive and succeed in the face of so much challenge. From our point of origin in the Village of Friends at Scarborough, through our Home Care and Wellness services in Moreton Bay, Brisbane North, Logan and on the Gold Coast, all the way to our rapidly growing community in Melbourne North – BallyCara has sought to grow, to adapt and to celebrate.
Resilience and Adaptation
There is something to be said for the truly worthwhile character traits that this year has encouraged in all of us. Standing up in the face of adversity and adapting to these new, and at times incredibly scary, conditions have led to greater levels of strength and flexibility all through the BallyCara community.
The first place to acknowledge resilience is in our Home Care regions, which have continued with their services non-stop throughout the heights of lockdowns. Home Care Clients worked around new physical distancing requirements and found many new ways to take joy in their Support Worker visits. Home Care staff found any opportunity to be positive amid trying conditions, taking joy at simple things such as being some of the only ones on the road during the most intensive lockdowns! We can give extra kudos to our Friends in Melbourne North, who endured the most serious and prolonged of Australia’s lockdowns; through it all continuing to grow their influence and welcome new Friends to the BallyCara community.
Next is the adaptive spirit of our Wellness team, who led the way in necessary digital and distanced innovation. Shifting to one-on-one exercise sessions and online group sessions were just two of the ways that the team managed to continue to inspire healthy and happy living.
This digitisation was not limited to the Wellness Program, either; our Friends in Residential Care had to find new ways to connect when visitation limits were imposed on the facilities. We saw digital visits from therapy dogs, online attendance to both weddings and funerals, and regular digital visits from family members. Even without technology, we saw innovation in the form of “paper hugs” – not quite substitutes for the real thing but an incredible display of affection all the same! The resilience of our care team, leisure and lifestyle team, and (especially) Residents themselves in the face of these circumstances cannot be understated.
The Sona-fied efforts of staff, Residents, Clients, family members and Friends across the organisation has been utterly inspiring!
Growth and Development
Growth and development continue to be a key theme for the BallyCara community, barely stifled by an international pandemic. Physically, we’ve seen incredible developments, both within the grounds of the Scarborough Village and in our wider regional footprint! The Village welcomed the (necessarily) gradual opening of the Village Centre complex, which has quickly become a hive of activity for the Village community with its variety of wonderful spaces. Caras’ & Co. in Wooloowin has been similarly exciting for our Brisbane North community (I won’t waste any words, as Dave, Shelley and Jhenai gave such a phenomenal account last week).
On a personal level, we have all likely heard of the different “iso-skills” picked up throughout isolation – these haven’t been kept from the Village of Friends! As we touched on before, staff and Clients have quickly become highly proficient (or at least mildly proficient) with all sorts of different digital communication and engagement software. Some have set out to rediscover skills that have previously fallen by the wayside, such as some Residents and staff that have worked together on their knitting skills! Others have set, and subsequently surpassed, health goals whilst working with our Wellness and STRC teams!
Possibly the most important facet of our collective growth, however, has come in the strengthening of our BallyCara community, in which everything we’ve talked about so far has played a role! Development hasn’t been limited to within, the pandemic has provided an unexpected opportunity for the development of strengthened inter-personal relationships. Take, for instance, Residential Care’s Concierge role. What started as a necessary screening step quickly became an important point for connection for both Residents and their family members.
Community support in these times didn’t develop as a one-way track. Many staff have spoken of the vital support provided to them from Clients and Residents. In Melbourne particularly, where social interaction was limited for such a prolonged period, Clients were some of the only points of social contact for staff and vice versa (read more about that here). So, to all those Friends that provided any amount of support to each other and to staff, we give a huge thanks!
In the face of all that has been, BallyCara still found every possible way to celebrate in traditional BallyCara style. From the celebration of big birthdays (centuries included) to incredible wedding anniversaries, to the Melbourne Cup and the State of Origin, to the commemoration of ANZAC and Remembrance Days – we have really found every reason to come together in the face of the un-celebratable!
We’ve also had the opportunity to celebrate the charitability and giving spirit of our friends in the Scarborough Village. Recent, wonderful examples of this spirit include the dedicated work of those collecting for the people of Papua New Guinea and the incredible generosity of those giving for St Vincent de Paul’s in the annual Christmas drive. On a smaller, but no less important, scale, it’s vital for us to now take the time to celebrate all the everyday kindness that has been shared through the BallyCara community. The amount of time dedicated to one another through the year is something we can build upon in the future.
Our staff have not been spared the celebration either! Tying the beautiful Form of Hope (which is a celebration all on its own) into the brand new Staff Reward and Recognition Scheme has allowed for an extra level of recognition for those staff that truly go above and beyond.
Lastly, having had the privilege to attend several of our Home Care, Wellness, and Residential Christmas parties, I can attest to the special spirit that was on display this year. Being able to come together, after spending a year beyond arms’ reach, was something else. Being able to join and celebrate the Christmas spirit was an incredibly touching experience.
Thank You and Happy New Year!
As the ever dynamic COVID-19 situation looks set to continue into the new year, it’s important for us all to take stock of our own thoughts, feelings, and emotional and physical conditions. We can all acknowledge that this year has been draining on every one of us, demanding more and more energy at each turn. So, while the clock chimes midnight, let’s all take a deep breath and recognise the great achievements we’ve made in the face of “unprecedented”, “extraordinary”, “once-in-a-lifetime” circumstances.
From all of us at BallyCara, thank you for your resilience, growth, and celebrations in 2020! Here’s to 2021!
Categorised in: BallyCara Blog
This post was written by Lachlan Green