Recipe for happiness

Joyce Galea. (Pictures: Supplied)

Joyce Galea is never happier than when she’s watching a television cooking show and whipping up a storm in the kitchen for her husband Jerry.

Joyce, 75, loves cooking “anything and everything” and takes special pride when she uses the produce from the 22 fruit trees in her large garden.

And Nazzareno ‘Jerry’, 80, fulfils his part of the bargain – he relishes the beautiful meals she prepares.

The pair are delighted to be still living together in their beloved Altona North home which has been made possible with their home care packages through Uniting AgeWell.

Jerry, a retired labourer who has dementia, is unable to walk and is confined to his bed after a neck injury.

Joyce, who has painful arthritis, can’t lift him. So, a personal carer visits each day, while Joyce gets help with housework and gardening.

“Uniting AgeWell is very good, anything I need I just have to ask,” Joyce says.

However, she manages to drive, does all the shopping and also picks fruit and vegies from her garden.

“We have a lemon tree, and the other day I made lemon chicken casserole,” Joyce says. “It tasted wonderful.”

She’s also thrilled the mysterious tree in her garden she cultivated from a pip several years ago is now flowering and about to produce avocados.

The great-grandmother has loved cooking all her life – she used to work in a canteen before she retired. And she’s looking forward to having the whole family round for meals as restrictions lift.

Jerry and Joyce are among the thousands of clients across Victoria and Tasmania on a home care package through the not-for-profit aged care provider – with many in Melbourne’s north and west.

Uniting AgeWell is now also delivering home care services to some 900 clients in the Brimbank council area, as well as those in Hobsons Bay and Maribyrnong.

Rohan Bond, Uniting AgeWell program manager West Metro Home Care says with 80 per cent of clients living alone, extra welfare checks and one-on-one visits are being done.

Rohan says an upside to the pandemic is that many people adjusted their home care packages to buy electric beds, mobility scooters and install ramps in their homes to enable them to live more independently during isolation. So now that things are getting back to normal, they’ll be able to continue living their easiest best lives possible.

Clients can also access Uniting AgeWell’s North West Metro Short-Term Restorative Care package – an early intervention program that aims to reverse and/or slow functional decline in older people and improve their wellbeing.

This provides a multi-disciplinary range of goal-oriented services at home, including occupational and physiotherapy and equipment needed, for up to 56 paid days.

Rohan says the pandemic has taken its toll on family carers who reported being exhausted, with a growing need for respite care.

Uniting AgeWell provides respite in the home as well as centre-based respite. And to meet this demand, all Uniting AgeWell residential communities are offering respite stays, with a special package offering a three week stay for the price of two.

Not only does it give the carers a break, but many of those coming in for short term stays love the camaraderie and support so much they end up staying.

It’s also useful for those recovering from a hospital procedure who need extra care before returning home. The facilities all offer 24-hour specialist clinical and dementia care.

For inquiries about Uniting AgeWell home care packages, respite stays and residential facilities, phone 1300 783 435 or visit