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At the end of last year, retired builder 74-year-old Alf was struggling to stand up straight.

Two years ago, Alf was feeling light-headed and had a fall on a flight of stairs – severely dislocating his knee, breaking his leg and fracturing his lower back.

At the time, Alf was living in affordable housing, and had no support services. His son lived interstate and his friends, although in Adelaide, resided quite a distance away.

“After my fall I was in such a state – I felt depressed and was at the end of my tether,” Alf said.

“I wouldn’t even get up to go and make myself a cup of tea – the pain was that bad.”

Alf had two major operations following the incident, and later found out from his doctor that he had likely suffered a minor stroke.

Still on the waiting list for a spinal operation, he was barely coping to do the basic necessities at home.

“I couldn’t cook – I stopped because one night I made a casserole and somehow got it in the oven, but on getting it out, my back gave way and the whole thing hit the floor,” he said.

“It wasn’t just the moving around – I couldn’t navigate the [aged care] system and figure out where I was meant to go to get help.”

Alf was struggling to navigate the aged care system and find the right support services

Helping to Navigate the System

Following a home visit to Alf and realising the struggle he was having, AnglicareSA tenancy officer, Sara Williams referred him to the AnglicareSA Aged Care Customer Advocate, Jo Carter Jones.

“When I first met Alf he was really struggling – he was frail and fragile. He couldn’t get in and out of bed, or sit down and get up off the couch without serious pain. He had a very old back brace with Velcro that had completely worn – he was keeping it together with pegs.”

Jo, AnglicareSA

Jo, as the Aged Care Customer Advocate, works side-by-side with people like Alf, trying to navigate their way through the aged care system.

When Alf reached out to Jo, he said “it took only a couple of days before everything started to come together.”

“Within about two weeks, I had someone from aged care visit… and within another couple of weeks I had a Short Term Restorative Care Package with physio and the lot,” Alf said.

“After about three weeks I was actually standing up straight… and not only walking straight but quicker… I couldn’t believe it.

“It was absolutely fantastic – with the special exercises, acupuncture and massages – I was moving and physically fit again.”

AnglicareSA Aged Care Advocate, Jo helped link Alf to various services

Through this package, Alf also received equipment such as bed and toilet raisers, bathroom chairs and a new back brace – enabling him to regain his freedom, independence and confidence.

Alf continues to be supported by an AnglicareSA Home Care Package which provides the in-home services he needs.

“I’m receiving support and have all these gadgets to help me out — and it’s all because I had the assistance navigating through the system”, he said.

“Without that help – knowing who and when to call, what plans I could get – I can honestly say I wouldn’t have made it.”

Alf is now able to carry out the regular tasks at home pain free (and with a smile)

Home is Where the Heart is

To his delight, Alf has also since transferred to a house in Seaford Rise – an area of Adelaide very close to his heart.

“I used to live just up the road, back in the 1970s – we were one of the first families to buy a house down here,” he said.

“A few friends and I started the O’Sullivan’s Beach Football Club when my son was just 7 years old – he’s 52 now.

“The boys (son’s friends) still call me up Thursday, Friday – they pick me up to go to the footy, we have a few beers and they drop me home.”

Alf is overjoyed with life in his Seaford Rise community

Originally from England, at the age of 28, Alf brought his young family to Adelaide after friends had raved about life in South Australia – particularly the weather and the beaches.

For many years he worked for one of Australia’s largest construction companies, Baulderstone Hornibrook (now acquired by Lend Lease) with stints around the country.

“I worked on just about every single multi-storey building in Adelaide,” he said.

“Building is not like these days – in my first 40 years of work it was all manual and heavy labour.

“My back has always given me trouble and I’ve got arthritis through my hands – so my fall just topped it all off.”

Alf says he’s now in a “great place” – with the support through his Home Care Package and a home in the community that originally made him fall in love with Adelaide.

“In just the last week, I’ve had three phone calls from friends saying ‘you’re back down here again, we’ll drop down soon!’,” he said.

“I can’t wait to get back into the local lifesaving and footy clubs. I’m managing very well, the move has been good, and AnglicareSA have been terrific.”