GLORIA’s story – by her citizen advocate, Trish:
Gloria was born in Dalwallinu District Hospital, Western Australia. Growing up on her parent’s farm in the rolling wheat-belt country, she was surrounded by animals from the very beginning: the cockatoos that swept overhead, the chooks she cared for, the pigs that grunted for attention, and the dogs that accompanied her on her walks around the paddocks that stretched as far as the eye could see. The farmhouse – a great old building that still stands magnificent in the rolling country – had wide verandas for summer shade and a fire in every room for winter warmth. Gloria’s earliest memories are the parties at Easter and Christmas, when folk would come from far and wide, and her mother made roasts with all the trimmings, and deserts like cheesecake and apple pie.
Gloria has always cared for others. She left school to nurse her mother through cancer, and she looked after her father through his old age. She now does three days a week voluntary work at the local club. But above all, think Gloria; I: think animals. As her mother used to say, she was born to be with them. In her big old house in Dalkeith, she now looks after four chooks, two blue budgies, and a wonder-dog called Riley, a cross between a German Shepherd and a Border Collie. Every time I visit, the birdbath is full of fresh water, and Riley, coat gleaming, runs to meet me.
So what do Gloria and I do together? Like any friends, lots of things: chat on the phone; the odd spot of shopping (especially City Farmers), the occasional film (we cried through Red Dog), and sometimes a DVD (we loved Greyfriars Bobby, which my nephew brought for Gloria a from Scotland.) But our three top favourites are sitting by the river and watching the boats and seagulls; visiting Kings Park when the wild flowers are in bloom; and having coffee at a local café so that everyone can say hello to the amazing Riley!
Within the context of this warm, supportive relationship, Trish has done much to ensure that Gloria’s life runs smoothly, enabling her to continue to live independently. Behind the scenes Trish liaises with the Public Trustee, monitors Gloria’s health following her brush with cancer, and ensures she is linked into her local community. When no longer able to work at a hospital, Trish was instrumental in finding Gloria a voluntary role at a local community centre. She helps out with refreshments and enjoys the added bonus of joining the participants on tours and entertainment. A win:win!