“I will never forget the look in her eyes the day she left us. She didn’t understand why she was being taken away from her home and the people she had grown to love. Her dementia had progressed to a point where she was no longer safe in our care. We just didn’t have the facilities to accommodate her. Six weeks later, she passed away. It was at that moment that I vowed and declared to build our own dementia-specific wing at MACS, and I made it my personal mission to see that project through to fruition.”
Joy Leggo is the CEO of Multicultural Aged Care Services – also known as MACS – in North Geelong, and has been since the doors opened in 1994. She moved her husband and children to Geelong for the job as she could see the huge opportunity that MACS offered, for her professionally, and for the wider Geelong Community. She applied, got the job, and has not looked back since!
“My first exposure to aged care took place quite early in my career when I was working in admin. I had to go into a nursing home to help the residents with their Census. I remember coming out and bursting into tears. The residents were just sitting around doing nothing and looking extremely lonely. It was so very sad. Later in my career I got to see what good aged care could be like, and it was then that I made the decision to work in a 24/7 aged care environment and really make a difference in the lives of older people.”
“Working at MACS has been the most fulfilling work of my career. I was drawn to MACS as I could see the difference it could make to the multicultural community of Geelong and I wanted to be part of that. Our aim was to change the perception of aged care and of the culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) community. We wanted people to understand that CALD didn’t mean ‘special needs’ and aged care wasn’t a sad and depressing place to be, rather a place where older people came to gain some independence back! There is good quality of life to be had regardless of age and abilities, and that is what we deliver for our residents and clients.”
“Many of our residents live a more active and social lifestyle when they come to MACS than they ever did at home. We have built a piazza, which is like the ‘town centre’ of MACS. Residents can visit the boutique, go to the hairdressers, have a coffee in the café, or post their mail at the post office. It is the heart of MACS. We celebrate many special cultural days throughout the year, and have lots of fun with activities like Mad Hatter Tea Parties, Bob the Builder sessions and thong throwing competitions, and provide health, fitness and mindfulness experiences through our award-winning Mindful Moves program.”
“One of our biggest achievements was opening out dementia-specific wing. This meant that our residents could have continuum of care and did not have to leave when their care levels increased. This continuum of care also allows for couples to stay together, regardless of their care needs. This is so important to them, as well as their families and loved ones.”
“After 24 years in the same role, people often ask me why I keep going. I keep going because people still need to be cared for and looked after, and I have plenty more to give!”
Story and photo supplied.