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What the older generations can teach us about coping during the coronavirus pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world as we know it. Society has been required to adapt to a new way of living, in order to minimise the virus that has now become the focal point of every news outlet and conversation globally.

For younger generations, it’s hard to comprehend, having not lived through anything quite so globally catastrophic. Those amongst us from older generations have the life experience to help others come to terms with what is happening, to look for some positives in this present experience.

Fortunately, we have some SwanCare Bentley Park residents which fit perfectly into this category! We spoke to them to find out how they were adapting to life during the pandemic, and asked if they had any advice for those looking for some reassuring words of wisdom…

“Jot jobs and ideas down on a list and cross them off as you go. If all else fails, make yourself a cup of tea, cut yourself some slack and relax if you need to! My favourite thing to do is make joke sketches. Overall, keep in contact with those you love, stay positive, have a laugh, and see the funny side of things if you can!”
Robin Hollier

“This is a time for reflection and being thankful for all that you have! It reminds me of my childhood through WW2, I just can’t help but think how fortunate we are with all the technology and food that we have available at our fingertips. I was a six-year-old child when WW2 started, I lived with my grandparents, there were seven of us in a three-bedroom home.  Back then we had no TV, no toys, one hour of radio for children, and can remember we queued in a long line for plain biscuits, only to find out there were none left when we got to front! We got one orange and one apple per year! 

I advise you to switch off the TV or choose programs that don’t have anything to do with COVID-19, because you can easily become overwhelmed with the amount that the media report. Have a plan for your day – that has really helped me. Eat fruit and vegetables every day, keep in touch with family and friends, and get out for a walk!”
Janet Openshaw

“When you talk about surviving things, I’ve survived WW2 and the Polio Epidemic. This epidemic doesn’t come close to what people went through back then. It will pass, all we have to do is be patient and do the right thing…your attitude is everything, no help being upset over the situation. Birds are still singing, flowers are still flowering, and the sun is still coming up. Life could be a lot worse!”
Pamela Hind

 “If your family is happy and healthy, you have so much to be thankful for! There is always someone worse off than you, so choose positivity every day and be grateful. Find some good friends if you don’t have family to rely on, or if you don’t then make friends with the people around you like your neighbours. We are so happy living here in the village, it’s a great environment where people are positive and still very active. Happy environments breed happy people.”
Engeline Drok

“Think of everyone else doing the same thing - stay home and be safe! If people are struggling, I would tell them to give positive affirmations a go. My current affirmation at the moment is “I’m safe and I am as well as I can be.”
Leona Douglas


“Akora Apartments is generally a happy place with happy people. I look outside and I enjoy it from the inside! Life is a beautiful thing, and you have to accept the fact that physically you can’t do everything, but you can find other things to do. We’re still here, be grateful for that and don’t take it for granted. Positive thoughts will take you a long way.

 I’m usually very active (swimming, bowling, golf), but my wife and I are enjoying our time together playing cards and chatting.”  
Franklyn DeGraaf

“I remember sugar coming off rations when I was about six years old – It was the best day when you could buy lollies without stamps! We’ve been through some rough things in our lifetime and we’ll get through this one too.”
David Hall


“Take one day at a time, tomorrow is another new day. Don’t sit and think what’s going to happen in the future – being scared doesn’t help anyone. Do something that makes you happy. If you walk past someone give them a quick smile to acknowledge them - it doesn’t cost a thing and feels so good for everyone involved!”
Rosetta Mascari

“Keep the happy memories going and all the laughs, and remember this will be over soon then you can continue having laughs in person with your loved ones. We are all in this together. I think that the SwanCare Village is the best place on earth to live as I have friends all around me and we look out for each other. We all get down, but you need to pick yourself up. Life can get too serious - the best way to live life is to laugh through it!
Thelma Chilton


Covid-19 has no doubt taken its toll on much of society, but we hope that the positive outlook adopted by our lovely residents will shine a light on what has been a turbulent and uncertain time. We’re looking forward to enjoying the freedoms afforded to us before the coronavirus and seeing our residents once again socialise and spend time with loved ones. 

Moving at any age is a big decision but it becomes much harder as we get older and the choices on offer can sometimes be very overwhelming. Like any big decision I think it helps to break it down into manageable steps so here are:

5 things to consider when deciding on the right village for you.


1. Location

You may still drive but it’s important to plan ahead to ensure you are not too isolated from essential services like shops and medical centers should you no longer hold a license. Make sure you are within easy distance of good public transport links and close enough to your family if you still want them to visit.

Bus Stop Outside Akora

2. Accommodation

This is probably one of the hardest decisions to make and the area that may see you making the most compromises. It will be tempting to choose somewhere that is familiar to you, somewhere that will fit all your furniture. A large double garage to fit both your cars and a shed for all the tools, but you need to remember you are changing the way that you live and your property choice should reflect that.

Many couples aim to manage with just one vehicle and if you choose a village with good public transport links as mentioned previously this should be fairly easy to achieve.

In many villages, the maintenance and upkeep of the property is managed for you so you won’t need that shed or space for the lawnmower.

Be as ruthless as you can and try to keep an eye on your future needs, a third bedroom or study might be a nice thing to have now but will it just be another room that won’t get used as time goes on? Much the same as it is in your own home currently.

Don’t let the dining table dictate where you live. This may sound funny but I have met many people who discount a home because there is no room for their dining table or the fridge does not fit in the recess. Remember it’s all about compromise so you’ll need to decide what’s more important.

Give apartments a chance.

Apartments are becoming very popular for retirees and can be found in many villages around the country today. Quite often people are reluctant to look at them as a viable option for their next home because the idea of living in a tower block is just too different to what they are used to. In fact, apartments can offer security, low maintenance, vibrant communal spaces and good wheelchair access for people with low mobility, many of the things that people look for when choosing their next home.

3. Choose your village before you choose your home

This is really important. Villages, like suburbs, have a feel and a culture and it’s important that when you do move in you feel at home and comfortable in your new surroundings. Take the time to talk to its current residents, after all they may be your new neighbours. You could find out:

  • How long have they been there?
  •  Are they happy?
  • Who owns the village and what do the residents think of them?
  • Are there many social activities to get involved in?
  • Are the gardens and accommodation well maintained?
  • What services and amenities are onsite?

Undertake a trial stay if possible. By spending a few days in the village you will really get a feel for whether you would like to live there and possibly notice more than you would do if you were just visiting for a tour.

4. Is there onsite care available if you need it?

As I have mentioned before, keep an eye on your future needs. You might not need it now but if you do in the future does the village have home care or residential care onsite and what sort of support do they provide residents as their care needs increase?

As you are finding out, moving is stressful so it’s important you minimize the need to do it again and that the village you choose can accommodate your health and lifestyle needs whatever they may be in the future.

5. Find out all the financial information before you sign up

There are many ways you can choose a home and move into a retirement village and, just like any property purchase, it’s important you understand all the financial information prior to signing up and just as importantly take the time to find out what will happen when you leave.

Just like any industry, there are good village operators and those that are not. Make sure you ask for copies of all the terms and conditions applicable and don’t hesitate to get legal advice if you feel it is necessary.

Back to the beginning

In the 1950's, the area where SwanCare Bentley Park now stands was a dense pine plantation. A fire ravaged the plantation in 1957 which cleared the way for development, including the construction of Curtin University (then known as the WA Institute of Technology) and SwanCare Bentley Park (then known as Swan Cottage Homes).

SwanCare Bentley Park was born out of the vision of Dr Richard Cleaver, former Federal Member for Swan, who wanted to provide affordable homes for war widows.

This vision has grown to become WA's largest retirement and aged care site, home to over 1,000 residents in the community's extensive retirement village or within one of three residential aged care facilities.

Despite a name change, the core organisation behind Swan Cottage Homes and its ethos, structure and community-minded culture remains at SwanCare, a non-profit charitable organisation.

With almost 60 years of history behind it, SwanCare is WA success story, in part due to its continued growth and adaption to the needs of the modem retiree.

The Evolution

SwanCare's evolution includes an $80 million makeover which is now underway. Residents are already enjoying the award-winning retirement apartment complex, the landscaped piazza and a modernised "main street" with hairdresser and grocery store.

Before the end of the year, the site will also welcome a $20 million leisure precinct with club rooms, gymnasium, heated swimming pool, community pavilion with sound and light gardens.

In early 2020, a new 124-suite residential aged care facility - named SwanCare Ningana - will open, setting a new benchmark in aged care in Western Australia.

To find out more about these exciting developments, click here.








How keeping busy is bringing meaning and connection to the elderly

Just over a month ago, Ron Honey, a resident at SwanCare Waminda residential aged care facility, was asked if he’d like to take on the responsibility of caring for a new courtyard and garden to be used by residents.

Annemarie Kluvers, Diversional Therapist at Waminda approached Ron as she knew he had a keen interest in gardening so thought he’d be perfect for the job.

She knew that Ron “isn’t the bingo type” and would be well suited to an activity that kept him busy away from the hustle and bustle of the more boisterous activities on offer for residents, such as concerts or games.

Ron, who has battled mental health issues for many years, was quite reclusive, opting to eat meals in his room and generally stayed away from the various activities on offer around him.

This was Annemarie’s chance to get Ron out and about.

“I popped up to see him one day and asked if the new garden was something he’d like to take on.”

“I was surprised and pleased when he jumped at the chance.”

Getting to work

Growing up in Bindi Bindi (two and a half hours North East of Perth) in the Wheatbelt, Ron has always felt at peace when working the land.

He now wakes at 4am to clean the garden’s footpaths and water plants before settling down for breakfast. After breakfast, it’s onto pruning and looking after the garden’s two resident budgies.

“Before taking on the garden I really felt quite unattached, I just felt I wasn’t being useful,” Ron said. “Now, that I have purpose and I’m busy, I feel a lot happier.”

Not only does Ron enjoy nurturing the garden’s flowers, herbs, vegetables and fruit trees, he gets a kick out of helping others.

“I get a tremendous buzz from seeing other people enjoy the garden too.”

Sometimes Ron and Annemarie take trips together to the local Bunnings store to pick up supplies for the garden, which Ron welcomes with a smile and glint in his eye.

Annemarie says such a simple initiative has resulted in enormously positive changes in Ron’s mental health.

A new lease of life

“I’ve seen a huge difference in Ron,” Annemarie said. “Instead of spending his days in his room, he is out talking to people, laughing and smiling. It’s beautiful to see.”

Annemarie says that there are a number of residents at Waminda who thrive on the responsibility of tasks.

“There are residents taking on various tasks such as light administration duties, setting up for events or washing dishes,” said Annemarie.

“Just like anybody else, most people in aged care want to contribute and there are so many ways that they are still indeed useful.

“One of our residents, who is too frail for anything physical, regularly works alongside six other residents to spend time and work with children with disabilities who come to Waminda as part of a local initiative.”

“We always encourage residents to look at what they can do, not what they can’t do.”


The importance of keeping busy

Rob Donovan (PhD Psychology) is Adjunct Professor in the School of Human Sciences at the University of WA, and Founder of Mentally Healthy WA’s Act-Belong-Commit campaign and says that Ron’s story is a great example of the sorts of things that make us mentally healthy, regardless of age, but perhaps more important as we get older.

“Keeping active, having social connections, doing something for the benefit of others, and having a purpose in life are all good for our mental health”, said Prof Donovan. “Ron is also getting an extra boost through his contact with nature, which has direct mood enhancing effects”.

 “Many people intuitively know what is good for their mental health, but sometimes they are in a position where they find it difficult to do something or lack the opportunity. Ron is fortunate in that he had someone on hand with a knowledge of his interests and was able to nudge him back into doing something that would not only use his skills but would be something he would enjoy”, Prof Donovan said.

Donovan advises seniors wanting to improve their mental health to think about activities that work for them.

“Look around and see how you can help others, re-connect with old friends, think of a hobby or something you used to enjoy and get back into it if you’re still able to,” Prof Donovan said.

Gardening goals

For now, Ron is committed. “If anyone wants to take the job off me now they’ve got a hell of a fight on their hands,” Ron said with a laugh. “I truly love the garden.”


By Matt Southgate


Chances are you are reading this in the family home you have lived in for the last 20 or 30 years, or more. Recently, you’ve been wondering if it’s time to start looking at moving to a retirement village – but you’re not sure.

As a former real estate agent and now retirement living consultant, I’ve discovered that there are many reasons why people decide to move to a retirement village. I’ve compiled this list of the most popular reasons why people choose to move – and people who move for these reasons do not tend to regret their decision.


1. It’s too quiet

In the past your family home has been a place of action. It’s been filled with the sounds of laughter, children, parties, divided opinions and more family Christmas’s than you can remember. It’s been through the hammers of modifications, renovations, and garden makeovers.

Your home has seen you and your family grow and your kids move out and now maybe it is quiet, and starting to feel less suited to your needs.

There might be rooms in the house you don’t use, silently filled with belongings that all have a special place in your life but just the thought of sorting through it is all too overwhelming.


2. The work seems too much

Those jobs around the house are building up because you just don’t feel like doing them or your health won’t allow.  The bother and cost of maintaining household equipment, like your lawn mower or hot water system, are also becoming more of a nuisance.


3. The neighbourhood has changed

Perhaps the neighbours your kids grew up with have moved away and although the new family next door seem perfectly nice they are busy and quite often you don’t get to speak to them for weeks – or months – at a time.

It might seem like the neighborhood you live in has changed too, the streets are busier, crime reports are more frequent and there are times at night where you feel vulnerable when once you felt safe and secure.


4. You like to travel

You might be one of the lucky ones who are enjoying an active retirement with plenty of travel to do.

You might worry about your home while you are away, concerned that everything is safe and secure.

And, while it’s nice at the end of a trip to come back to your familiar family home, the overgrown lawn and the spiders who have made themselves at home are not the most pleasant of homecomings.


5. You’d like to be more socially active

You’d like to get out and do more with your day but not sure where to start or feel uneasy about it.  

These days, unless you belong to a club or organisation that meets regularly chances are you can go for weeks without talking to anyone and that can seriously affect your wellbeing.


6. All your money is tied up in the value of your home

You might have paid off your mortgage years ago but the savings you had put away for your retirement might now be getting low, which is worrying you. Most people still have a substantial amount of wealth but it is tied up in the value of the family home.


Does any of this sound familiar to you?

Moving and the sale of a house is not something most people do frequently in their lives and quite often people just don’t know where to start. There are so many questions, you don’t know what to do first and in the end it’s far easier to do nothing than start the process so that’s exactly what a lot of people do.

The problem is, the older we get the harder it becomes to actually make the move at all.

Like taxes, change is inevitable and it might be time to completely and honestly consider if your current home still meets your current needs and future desires.


Matt Southgate is the Retirement Living Consultant at SwanCare Bentley Park, WA’s largest integrated retirement and aged care site. Matt can be contacted at 6250 0016 or email matthew.southgate@swancare.com.au 



SwanCare Gardens Interest Group

By SwanCare Bentley Park’s Gardens Interest Group


Here in Perth, Western Australia, Autumn is a time when pests that like to attack plants seem to be very active such as scale, red spider mite and mealy bugs.


Mealy Bug

Picture: Mealy Bug

Red scaly mite

Picture: Red scaly mite


You can make your own pest oil spray from the recipe below but choose the cool of the day (below 25 degrees C) and after the bees have stopped foraging, to spray.


Homemade Oil Spray

250ml vegetable oil

¼ cup dishwashing liquid

Place in a bottle and shake to blend thoroughly. Store in a cool area.

Dilute at the rate of 1 tablespoon of concentrate per litre of water, before spraying both upper and under leaves. Use at half strength for natives plants.

Don’t be tempted to increase the strength of the liquid or you will burn the plant.

(Not suitable for plants with hairy leaves like palms, bromeliads and ferns.)


Pyrethrum is another choice. It is a natural, low persistence insecticide broken down by exposure to sunlight and remaining active for approximately 12 hours. It is suitable for controlling ants, scale, mealy bugs, grasshoppers, cockroaches, beetles, caterpillars, lice and mosquitoes.

Unfortunately, it may also kill beneficial insects, so again always use late in the day after the bees have returned to their hive.

The SwanCare Bentley Park Gardens Interest Group is a resident group that meets throughout the year to learn and discuss various gardening topics. In 2019 they will explore:

  • growing plants in pots, including bulbs & re-potting hints
  • succulents (some plants for sale)   
  • phalaenopsis orchids
  • native plants/grevilleas
  • Christmas ornament wreaths & flower arranging.

SwanCare Bentley Park is a full-service, integrated retirement village Bentley, Western Australia, sprawled over 15 hectares and home to over 1,000 residents.

Explore SwanCare Bentley Park

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There are so many wonderful reasons why people choose our retirement villages. We invite you to visit and experience the SwanCare lifestyle at one of our retirement homes or aged care facilities in Perth, WA.

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