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The two of us: Beryl & Senada

Flourish 24 Oct 2019

Australian Unity Home Care Service customer Beryl McGrath has osteoarthritis and osteoporosis. A phone call led her to Australian Unity and she says she’s never been happier

Beryl and Senada sitting on a chair
Beryl

“I received care from another group but Helen [my daughter] and I were very unhappy. One day a work colleague gave her a piece of paper with a phone number on it and said: ‘My mother swears by them’. It was the Australian Unity Home Care Service number and it changed my life.

“The moment Senada walked in the door I thought, ‘oh my God, I’m going to love this girl’. She goes beyond what she has to do. She is very careful and asks me if I’m in pain.

“I’ve told Australian Unity they are very lucky to have her.

“Today when we were out shopping, somebody asked if she [Senada] bosses me around.
“She thinks she does.

“I have care three times a week for an hour each time. Senada comes to me on Wednesdays and Fridays. She showers me and helps me get dressed. Senada and another Care Worker alternate every Tuesday for light cleaning and on Saturday, Senada takes me shopping for social support.

“We share things in common. We were both born overseas. I was born in the UK during the war. Senada was born in Yugoslavia. Our parents did their best with very little.

“I married an engineer and travelled all through Africa. In 1974 he got itchy feet and said we should go to Australia. It was going to be for three years but obviously we stayed longer.”

Senada

“Beryl is a good talker and I’m a good listener.

“I usually visit her on Wednesdays and Fridays. I look forward to seeing her because she has a lovely personality. She is very kind and caring and very strong.

“By that, I mean she wills herself to do as much as she can.

“I remember when I met Beryl. You obviously look at your roster and think ‘What kind of person is she going to be?’

“When I opened the door and saw her smile I thought ‘What a positive lady’.

“She’s very young at heart.

“She is a bit like my mum. My mum is still over there [in Europe] and I cannot help her.

“It makes me feel good, complete on the inside, that I’ve done something for someone.

“All my life I knew I’d end up doing this. I worked in hospitality when my kids were little because it was flexible, and I like people. I’ve got a soft spot in my heart for elderly people. I was very close to my grandparents.

“The other thing about being in this country is that I am far away from my parents and I miss them. I’m not there to help them, so doing this job makes me feel better.”

Q&A

What is your favourite thing about each other?
Beryl She is very caring and goes way above and beyond her duty.
Senada Beryl’s honesty and her kind heart.

Conversation topic
Beryl Our backgrounds, our work and families. I started as a shelf filler at Franklins, then became a checkout chick and finally chief cashier. When I did the ordering, they used to call me ‘the girl with the golden voice’.
Senada I like hearing about when she was growing up, how she met her husband and her travels.

Biscuit or snack to share
Tim Tam or Mint Slice

Tea or coffee?
Beryl Coffee
Senada Iced coffee. I didn’t like iced coffee until I met Beryl. Now I’m hooked.

Ritual
On Saturdays, after we have finished our shopping we always go to the local pub for lunch. We both like steak, with salad and chips.


Words Maria Triaca

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