Debbie’s story

Why Kairos?

When I was first asked “why did we start Kairos Property Group?” my initial response was based around professional experience, my passion for property, my corporate background and generally my love of helping people.  However, since starting our own journey down this road, I have come to realise we are very much a part of your journey as well. 

The heart of what we do here at Kairos is very personal.  The decision to sell a family home, downsize and move, either from want or necessity, comes with a bag of memories, a checklist of requirements and a whole lot of uncertainty.

It was after these first few conversations that I realised my own personal journey for starting Kairos was just as important to share as my corporate/professional experience. My passion for helping people through the minefield of options when it comes to types of lifestyle choices, the different funding requirements, deciphering what ‘over 50’s lifestyle living’, ‘independent living’, ‘assisted living’ and ‘aged care’ really means, all stem from my father.

Standing at 6’6”, my Dad was a formidable figure, an independent, strong minded yet gentle giant with a passion for sailing!  So when we started noticing his memory issues, the forgetfulness and the confusion it was a little confronting. Dad was very aware of his condition and agreed to move into a retirement unit -  independent living - where he still had his own home, but meals were provided, support onsite and someone to get his weekly prescription.

Unbeknown to us at the time, the level of Dad’s dementia was masked by his very rigid daily living patterns.  What we now know is that moving someone in the onset of dementia from their familiar environment can escalate the symptoms, so within 48 hours of moving, Dad had been admitted to hospital due to an overdose of his medication…he simply forgot that he had already taken it. Less than a week after this the police picked Dad up at 10pm, wandering along the motorway several kilometres from home, scratched and disorientated and delivered him to my sisters’ home. It was a traumatic time and an alarming wake-up call that we needed more help.

What happened next, really cemented my determination to help other families before this kind of situation arose.

We found emergency respite accommodation for Dad in a dementia unit at a private nursing home.  However, on arrival it was starkly apparent that this was a place where the staff were just there to do their jobs, there was no warmth, and no compassion.  Being in a dementia unit for the first time can be a shock to the uninitiated – and it was! The thought of leaving my Dad there just about broke my heart. We were determined to find a better solution and immediately started to search for suitable permanent accommodation.  It was harder than we expected with very little availability.

However, we were then faced with the distressing news the emergency accommodation we had placed Dad in had underhandedly gotten him to sign himself in as permanent resident, even though they were fully aware my sister was acting as Power of Attorney.  After seeking legal advice and presenting the facility with a letter stating that he most certainly was NOT staying there, the establishment abruptly gave us 24 hours’ notice to get him out of there and moved somewhere else. Thankfully, after over 100 calls later we were able to find an amazing place offering both high and low care options, and with great relief we moved Dad into his new home.

Due to the stress of multiple changes to his environment, for his own safety Dad initially moved into ‘high care’ but over time transitioned back to ‘low care’.  As he became more familiar with the staff and his surroundings, his dementia symptoms receded and stabilized for a while.  Ultimately though, dementia is a one-way street.  It is an unforgiving disease that removes a part of the person bit by bit.  Dad spent his last few years in a very caring, loving environment, where the staff were kind, respectful and understanding and as a family we are very grateful we had been able to find such an amazing facility. 

Whilst not all journeys end the same, I believe in arming people with the right information so that they can make informed decisions well before it is necessary for a family member to step in, and hopefully avoid or reduce the stress of more extreme circumstances. There are so many options available now and over 50s living options are fantastic.  It is really about creating a community and a lifestyle to suit your needs now and the future.  I feel passionately about Kairos’ ability to offer you the tools to understand funding, legal and financial implications and just simplify the process. This should be an exciting new chapter in your own personal journey.

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