News & Events

From the CEO

June 10, 2020

What a difference a year makes! This time last year we were preparing a series of events to celebrate our 150th anniversary, a milestone for any organisation. We were gathering regularly to dream and plan events which reflected the spirit of each village, honoured our history and looked forward to a bright, dynamic future.

Physically distancing was not a term we had heard of, washing hands was something we did but probably not as often as we should, and staying at home safely was not a phrase that came naturally.

Six months ago – as we enjoyed the last of our 150th celebrations in Currie Park – no one had heard of the coronavirus. Now, several months into the pandemic, much of our daily lives have been transformed by its spread. We are now, thankfully, emerging from a three-month lockdown where many of us have not really seen others, or if we have at a distance. We have missed each other’s company even though we have been catching up by phone, skype or 1.5 metres apart. And yet, the feeling of friendship and care has been evident in every village.

One of the highlights, for me, was the work that was carried out to uncover the lesser known aspects of our history. One of the stories on our timeline is about how OCAV protected its residents from the Spanish ‘flu in 1919.

We learn from the Council minutes of January 1919 that the honorary medical officer of ‘The Homes’, Dr Taylor Downie, advised against the annual boat trip to Sorrento scheduled for 4 February in ‘view of the prevalence of influenza’.  At the same time, the Council instructed the Secretary to find out how many residents wanted to be inoculated.

The February minutes note a letter from one of the residents who was planning to leave ‘The Homes’, but requested as a favour to be allowed to remain ‘until the Plague has abated’.

As the epidemic escalated, OCAV inoculated all residents who chose free of charge, provided the Association obtained the serum.  It did – 20 doses for a cost of £2/15/0.   Dr Downie also drafted a message that was posted on the notice board, advising residents not to proceed outside the grounds, to avoid mixing with the public, and to avoid entertaining their friends.

It all sounds rather familiar, doesn’t it? Our timeline provides a fascinating glimpse into how OCAV has been supporting older Victorians in a myriad of ways by providing safe, affordable housing, health care, and much more for over 150 years. We should all be proud of being part of this community.

I have said on many occasions that I have zero tolerance for elder abuse, and have always strongly advocated to end elder abuse. This Monday 15 June, I will be marking the occasion by wearing purple to lend my voice to the international campaign to stop this insidious abuse. I hope you will join me.

Looking ahead, we are currently preparing another submission to the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety about the impact of the pandemic on Liscombe House. We have learned many lessons, not least that being prepared is crucial, training staff is vital, and keeping a clear head is critical. I thank my extraordinary team for their care and support of our most vulnerable residents, as I also thank our residents and volunteers for their kindness and generosity to all those in their village. It makes a difference.

I look forward to seeing you all face to face very soon.

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