Elderly lady sitting in front of TV and doing stretches with others virtually

Robyn Condliffe had been happily attending Feros Care exercise classes for years, but when COVID-19 hit, she switched to virtual classes and discovered a portal to a world stretching far beyond the walls of her home in Boambee, New South Wales.

The 79-year-old was introduced to Feros Care's Virtual Social Centre (VSC), giving her access to a range of group sessions, in everything from arts and crafts to cooking and gardening, helping her stay connected, fit and stimulated while in isolation.

After first swapping her weekly in-person group exercise programs for more regular online versions that were beamed into her lounge room, Robyn began exploring other content available on the VSC.

"I've been on a tour of the Victorian Art Gallery, I've been through people's gardens, joined in some knitting classes and listened to a group reading," said Robyn, who was introduced to Feros Care two years ago when her late husband received services through a government-funded Home Care Package.

"There's really something for everyone on the Virtual Social Centre. I've met lots of people. There's a lovely couple from Lightning Ridge – they host a half-hour coffee catch up and we chat about different things.

"There's meditation on Sundays and a fortnightly card-making class; and I still do my exercise, of course.

"While I miss catching up with my old friends after our physical class, I do prefer doing it virtually.

"It's better for me because now I'm doing the exercise every day, instead of just once a week, and I can do them at a time that suits. If I miss the live class, I do it later on 'catch-up’ and replay the session whenever I want it."

Keeping up with her exercise is important for Robyn, who had polio at 15, which led to some balance issues.

Managing health conditions from home

She has also suffered a few health problems in the last year, which Feros Care helps her manage through its Healthy Life Program. The Healthy Life Program is a new, free 12-week program, funded through the government, that aims to help clients become more confident in monitoring their own health and general wellbeing from home.

"The program has been a great way of monitoring my health and it's interesting to keep daily checks of things like my blood pressure, blood oxygen levels and weight to see if there are any changes," said Robyn.

"My nurse has been very helpful – she's found ways to use a product called Farrow Wraps which in the future I will be able to apply to manage my lymphedema, and educated me on navigating the government funding systems."

Google Home and the MyFeros portal can keep you safe and independent

Robyn has also been aided by Feros Care's smart home modifications.

"I'm connected to the MyFeros Portal and Google Assistant system, which I like because I'm into technology and it's a bit of fun," she said.

"Google even talks back sometimes. In the early stages of COVID-19 I was feeling a bit lonely and told it I was going to bed and it answered me, which was good for a bit of a laugh.

"The voice activation is great at night because it means I can easily turn lights on and off without having to swivel or walk in the dark, which is much safer with my balance issues.

"Feros Care is also putting in a smart lock on my front door and a camera so I can see if anyone comes up my driveway. I'm quite content living by myself but it's nice to feel safer and these modifications will help me stay in my own home longer."

Robyn is receiving services from Feros Care but is on the waiting list for a Home Care Package so she can gain more assistance.

"Feros Care's services are wonderful," she said.

"I don't have a package at the moment so the services I'm getting are a bonus which is marvellous.

"As soon as my government package is approved I'll be able to increase my services which I'm looking forward to.

"At the moment I'm just happy to be able to access the many systems and services Feros Care has made available to me."

To find out more about the Virtual Social Centre, click here.

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