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“The people at Bethanie have been through this before and can give you the information you need to move forward”: Neil White discusses his fathers palliative journey with Bethanie.

Neil’s father, Arthur White, was described as a very genuine man who was strong-willed, practical and always in control of his own destiny. He was very passionate about his involvement with the Masonic Touring Club and the Esperance Early Days Committee - a group that lived in Perth, but where originally from Esperance. He also loved to share his stories about his time as an Engine Driver on the railways and going fishing.

Arthur’s life started in Esperance, before he moved up to Perth in 1942 at the beginning of the World War II. He was posted to Northam in the transport division transporting petrol.

When the war ended, he joined the railways, which is where he worked as an engine driver until the age of 60 when he retired.

Neil said that his beloved father’s death caught him by surprise.

“Palliative care was a very different experience to what I thought it would be and very different emotionally too,” he said.

It was Arthur’s choice to move into the wonderful community at Bethanie Geneff’s Aged Care Home. Neil said his father chose it because “it just had a nice feel to it.”

“It turned out to be a great choice. It was always such a friendly place and the staff were fantastic.”

Neil fondly reflected on Arthur’s time at Bethanie Geneff. He said that Arthur was very active and engaged with the many activities on offer. He was social and enjoyed chatting to the other residents.

“Come Christmas time, he slowed right down, and his mobility decreased – he ended up in a wheelchair in quite a short space of time,” Neil said.

From previous experience, and extensive conversations with staff at Bethanie, Neil recognised that future planning for his father’s care needs was needed.

Neil had many conversations with the staff at Bethanie Geneff about Arthur’s future. He described these conversations as nothing short of tremendous.

“Both the Facility Manager, Joanne and the Registered Nurse, Hayley were so helpful.”

As an engineer, Neil is wired to seek as much information as possible, “I must have been a pain more than anything. I was always asking questions! At no time did either of them push me away. They always made time for me and that was so important for myself and my family. We were so appreciative.”

Neil was offered many support groups and services by the staff at Bethanie Geneff. Although he never took them up on the offer, he felt comforted knowing it was there if needed.

In the final days of Arthur’s life, Neil reflected on one of his more wholesome moments during the experience. He found his father short of breath and a little bit distressed. The staff went in to administer medication and provide comfort. When they left, Neil found the room completely transformed into a tranquil and peaceful space.

The staff had dimmed the lights, had peaceful music playing and filled the room with calming aromatics to ensure Arthur felt at ease.

Arthur passed away on the 17th March 2020 at age 95.

Neil’s advice to other families going through a similar experience is to give loved ones as much time as you can.

Neil said: “The people at Bethanie have been through this before and can give you the information you need to move forward. This was something I didn’t know how to go about. Make sure you talk to them.”

After Arthur’s wonderful life came to a close, Neil was surprised at the impact his father had left on those that cared for him, “the staff came up and said how much they enjoyed dad being there – and dad could be a real pain sometimes,” he laughed.

“For this, I was so grateful.”

For more information on the palliative care service Bethanie has to offer, please call us on 131 151.

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