News & Events

Pat’s got the world at her feet

December 11, 2016

Vale Pat Thomas
Pat, a much loved member of the Braeside Park community in Berwick, died in 2018.


Pat Thomas reckons she’s got more than any millionaire could ever afford. Confined to a wheelchair after a long illness, Pat is living a full and independent life at one of Braeside Park’s serviced apartments.


“Honestly, if I won tattslotto tomorrow, I wouldn’t leave here. I couldn’t, I just love it,” Pat said.


Pat moved into Braeside Park three years ago after having spent years living in a unit in Narre Warren. The five steps to the footpath became increasingly difficult to manage as her mobility deteriorated. She felt like a prisoner in her own home and knew she had to find somewhere else to live.


“I had never heard about this place until my niece’s friend told her. So we came here for a visit and I thought what a lovely place and I felt straight away that I could be at home here,” Pat said. “I was right, it has been just wonderful and I love it.”


The illness that she has lived with for almost a decade led to surgery three years ago and after that she could no longer walk and was confined to a wheelchair. “When I was in hospital I was worrying about where I could live because I knew I couldn’t go back to the unit with the steps. At the same time the letter arrived from the Old Colonists telling me I could move in. It’s like it was meant to be,” Pat said.


She left hospital and moved almost immediately into her serviced apartment, with it’s large bathroom, wide walkways and spacious rooms, more than able to accommodate a wheelchair.


Residents in the serviced apartments are served breakfast and lunch in the dining room and can select a small meal to take back to their apartment for their evening meal. Pat’s morning routine takes a lot of time so staff bring her breakfast to the apartment.


Pat is able to live independently because of the services provided, including a weekly clean of the apartment and all meals from the communal dining room. As well, the local council provides some home help for Pat to assist her to shower. An ulcer on her foot also requires regular treatment visits from the district nurse.


“This unit was made specifically for someone with a disability so it makes it easy for me to maneuver around the space,” Pat said.


Pat’s reliance on her wheelchair, the only one in the village, has certainly not left her isolated. She has an electric scooter at her front door and uses it to go to the local Berwick shopping centre.


Within the village she enjoys going to Bingo and loves her weekly craft sessions with five other friends. “I laugh from the time I arrive till the time I get home. It is a great part of my week and we have so much fun, though I’m not much good at any of it.”


Pat, a policewoman in her early working life and then a security officer at Myer, has two sons and seven grandchildren, two living locally. She loves the chance to look after her granddaughters, aged, 6 and 8, whenever she is needed.


“The girls come here to stay with me during the day when they need to and it is lovely. I also have a friend from Kyneton who visits and she comes to the dining room for lunch when she is here. It’s such a welcoming place, it really is, and the staff make sure of that.”



"I love the fact that Rushall Park residents and volunteers are so active – contributing to life in the village. The sense of the community is strong which is why I put my name on the waiting list" - Maggie Birkett.

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