Moving away from family a ‘death sentence’

Geoff VivianMidwest Times
Vivienne Lawer is able to visit her mother as often as she wants because she has found a place in Carnarvon’s nursing home. She said relocating her mother to Geraldton would be a “death sentence”.
Camera IconVivienne Lawer is able to visit her mother as often as she wants because she has found a place in Carnarvon’s nursing home. She said relocating her mother to Geraldton would be a “death sentence”. Credit: Supplied

Joan Hopper is a Carnarvon identity of many years’ standing.

Many grown women remember her as Brown Owl of their local Brownies’ pack. She volunteered for 25 years at Friends Of Carnarvon Under Stress and was active in the dog kennel club.

Mrs Hopper is now 98 and living with dementia. Her daughter, Vivienne Lawer, sees her every second day, alternating visits to Poinciana Lodge with her sister.

Mrs Lawer said her mother would not last much longer if she had to leave Carnarvon.

“She needs her family and all they do for her,” Mrs Lawer said.

“My mum is like a little kid — if you set her up in a ward in Geraldton, she wouldn’t last very long at all. She’s always been really good mentally but she’s starting to lose it a bit now.”

Mrs Lawer said relocating her mother to a nursing home in Geraldton would be a death sentence as she would not be able to see her family very often.

“I could go to Geraldton on the bus but you get in at 1am,” she said.

“To fly, you fly to Perth and then fly back to Geraldton.

“The Carnarvon-to-Perth air fare is around $800 return if you pay full fare.”

Mrs Lawer said friends of hers had a brother in permanent care in Carnarvon, but his deteriorating mental condition meant he had to be transferred to Geraldton for the care he needed.

“He had a fall and needed an operation and that family has been up and down to Geraldton,” she said.

“He passed away quite quickly.”

Mrs Lawer said three seniors had left Carnarvon within 10 days because they needed aged-care beds.

“They have worked and paid taxes and I think they deserve a bit of care and compassion,” she said.

“Two of them have been Anzacs and, really, it’s just not the way you treat your elders.

“Another of the three is in Geraldton at [a nursing home] now and she just sits and stares out the window.”

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