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A caring community to call home

Photo taken prior to COVID-19.

Freedom Sandringham staff take great pride in ensuring the community is a welcoming and caring place to call home.

Hear from David, son of Bob and Gwen, two of Freedom Sandringham’s newest residents, about his family’s experience with Freedom and what made them decide it was right for them.

 

Could you tell us a bit about your parents and their lives?

“My parents, Bob and Gwen Barham, have lived a very full and rich life. Our family consists of my father Bob, now 88, Gwen 82, my sisters Elizabeth and Angie, and myself, David. We grew up in a small town in the Wimmera, called Marnoo. A community of not more than 300 people, it was a wheat and sheep town. My father, along with his brother and sister owned the local grocery store, inherited from their parents. In 1970, we moved from Marnoo to Warrnambool in the Western District of Victoria. Our family was in Warnnambool for nearly 30 years, before moving to Melbourne. Bob was a very community driving person. He was Mayor of Warrnambool for a considerable time and drove many developments for the town. We made many friends and still feel part of that community.”

 

What professions did they hold prior to retirement?

“Bob left school at a young age and worked in the store at Marnoo. He met Mum, who lived in Stawell, when she was teaching at the Marnoo primary school. They lived a traditional life for their generation, with Mum staying at home to bring all of us up, and Dad working many different jobs. We left Marnoo in 1970 when Dad and Mum bought a caravan park in Warnnambool, the Ocean Beach caravan park. We lived onsite and all grew up running a large caravan park which had many sites for caravans, as well as units and some permanent residents. At the same time Dad sold insurance and was one of the top-rated insurance salesmen in the country, for National Mutual.”

 

What convinced you and your parents that Freedom Sandringham was right for them?

“Mum and Dad had lived happily in retirement in a beautiful home in Brighton for well on 20 years, when as a family we made the decision that they needed to move into Freedom Sandringham. Whilst they were still quite capable of looking after themselves, they were needing more and more help with some elements of their lives. We wanted, and they wanted, to move somewhere where they could keep their independence but receive as much help as they needed as their lives progress.”

 

What prompted your parents to move into Freedom Sandringham?

“Freedom Sandringham seemed the perfect place to achieve all of our objectives. As it became obvious to us all, that more help was needed with some of the more simple things like shopping, cooking and cleaning, we decided as a family to move.”

 

Your parents moved into Freedom Sandringham in the midst of a pandemic. How did the community staff make the move easier for your parents?

“It was an exceedingly difficult time to move during COVID-19, but once we decided we needed to move, we had to push through the issues. As a family we worked closely with the management and were able to carefully plan how to make this work for everyone, even in the most difficult of circumstances. We were impressed with the way that everyone at Freedom Sandringham conscientiously address this issue. They took absolutely no risks and left no stone unturned in successfully moving my parents in and then settling them in.”

 

How are your parents settling into the community? Have they had much of a chance yet to get involved in community life?

“My parents have settled in very well. Firstly, they moved into a one-bedroom unit, however have now moved to the unit we planned for them to live in, a two-bedroom unit on the ground floor. This has been carefully planned and built over the past six months, throughout all the restrictions. Since moving into this unit, they have been very happy. A ground floor unit, that has a small garden attached, it is spacious, full of natural light and it already feels like somewhere they have been living for quite a while. I cannot see them moving from here, they are very happy. We are looking forward to getting them involved in the community life over the next few months.”

 

What is the one piece of advice you would offer others who are looking for care for a loved one?

“My advice to anyone, looking to do what we have done, is to have a good look around. We did and it took a while to find what we wanted. Interestingly and importantly, it is the people that you meet and work with in achieving this decision, that are the most critical. We could not have found a more caring group of administrators and nurses than we have at Freedom Sandringham. To me that is the key thing, the care. Freedom Sandringham, and the people that run it care. We cannot ask for more than that and feel really lucky and comfortable that we have been able to find such a great home for the final years for our parents.”

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