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Fernlea Community Care

30 July, 2019

With all the negative news in the media it is easy to forget the good stuff, here we share a lovely story sent into The Foundation by Fernlea Community Care Inc CEO Sue McIvor…. And we celebrate a community respite centre doing their best.

Fernlea Community Care is a day respite centre, located in Emerald in the Dandenong Ranges of Melbourne. Our clients (who we call ‘guests’) come to us with a wide range of palliative health condition, spending the day with us to not only give their carers a break but also to give them a break from all their medical interventions, where, for that day, they are not defined by their illness but can make social connections and focus on their own well-being.

Our model of care is unique: it is a home-like setting surrounded by a beautiful ferny garden. We limit the number of guests each day so that we can provide tailored one-on-one care provided by clinical staff, an activities coordinator, trained volunteers and complementary therapists who provide reiki and massage. We put the person at the centre of everything we do, using care as a treatment and slowness as a principle.

Sharing our food story
Food has become a key component of delivering that care to our guests.

  • We use fresh and seasonal produce that we grow organically ourselves, or source locally
  • We employ a qualified chef who prepares fresh food daily and is passionate about his work
  • Food quality, visual appeal and nutritional value underpin every meal produced
  • We tailor and produce meals for our guests that help maximise nutrition, reignite their interest in food and support challenging health conditions such as dementia and cognitive decline
  • Our meals nourish the soul and trigger fond memories through taste & recreating traditional recipes

We do all of this within a restricted budget but without the focus being on cost-cutting. Yes, it is possible!

Peter’s story (taken from our guest newsletter)
We know the importance of good food and nutrition. It is an added bonus when the meals our chef makes resonate with our guests on an emotional and sensory level. Last week, David recreated a traditional favourite, corned beef with mustard sauce.  Peter, one of our guests, said it was the best meal he ever had, and it reminded him of his mother’s mustard sauce and corned beef he enjoyed so much growing up.

Heather’s story – a special treat for Heather (taken from our guest newsletter)
When staff asked our guest Heather what cake she’d like to celebrate her birthday she jokingly said she wanted to have a croquembouche, a French dessert made by combining custard-filled choux pastry puffs piled into a cone and decorated with threads of caramel. Heather’s wish came true when our chef David set about creating Heather’s cake. Pictured is our PCA Gwen, serving Heather and other guests her very special birthday treat. We hope this birthday holds very special memories for Heather to cherish.

We know from guest & carer feedback that the quality of meals and care Fernlea provides, are the very things that makes Fernlea so special. Not only is our food fresh, it is nutritious and prepared taking into account individual guests’ dietary requirements and health needs. The beautiful meals are a key talking point as guests sit together to eat and enjoy each other’s company.

All meals prepared for our guests use fresh ingredients as well as organic produce grown in our garden at the Fernlea Shop of Opportunities (a social enterprise we set up to raise money for our community work, promote Fernlea and bring the community together). Our chef uses the recipe book ‘Better Brain Food’ to create some meals for our guests with a range of challenging conditions including dementia and cognitive decline.

We hope you enjoy hearing about our work, and that it gives you hope that there are positive things happening in aged care.