Changing Billy’s mind
By Caring Times editor Geoff Hodgson
Many years ago when I worked as a mining journalist in the goldfields of Western Australia, I wrote a serious feature piece about an old gold prospector who topped himself rather than be moved from his ramshackle shanty out in the bush and be looked after, at the state’s expense, in a care home in town.
I had had the privilege of meeting and talking with Billy (I’ll call him that) on several occasions, bumping along rough tracks in my old Toyota four wheel drive to reach his shanty, trailing a cloud of dry red dust. My last meeting with Billy was less than a fortnight before he detonated some hoarded explosives and blew the shanty and himself to smithereens, so continuing what had become almost a tradition among those of his calling. At 80-odd he had become very frail and it was clear he could not continue to live independently.
It takes a special kind of person to live the solitary life of a prospector in the Australian outback and, while few have that measure of rugged individuality, independent spirit and pragmatic resolve, for most of us it is the loss of independence that makes moving into a care home such an anguished step.
And yet care homes have the potential to give people more true independence, more options, more choice,than they have if they remain at home. Care homes can enable people to continue to be self-determining, to take risks – care homes can do all these things, if they’re allowed to. If they’re not, people like Billy will continue to make their own arrangements.
- The CT Blog is written in a personal capacity – comments and opinions expressed are not necessarily endorsed or supported by Caring Times.