The hardest of times for a family was made just a little easier by the staff of a Border aged care home.
Damara Ryder, her mother Sue and brother Jared have paid tribute to the team at West Albury’s Lutheran Aged Care Yallaroo for the support given to their late father and husband Neville Cox.
Mr Cox, 68, died in October of Huntington’s disease, an incurable neurological condition that leads to gradual loss of cognitive, physical and emotional function.
Mrs Ryder praised the care he received during his six years at Yallaroo and particularly in his final weeks.
“They just all treated him as a friend, like the laundry lady came in and gave him a kiss on the head and said what a pleasure it was to do his laundry, just little things like that,” she said.
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“He was so frail and just watching the staff, they were just so kind and gentle with him when they were helping him to eat and get dressed.
“Just simple, basic things that made such a massive difference. Mum and I saw how much he was loved there.”
Originally from Lockhart, Mr Cox had been a mechanic and active community member through Apex, sporting clubs and the fire brigade, travelling around the Riverina for brigade demonstrations and competitions.
He was diagnosed with Huntington’s disease in 2001 and at first created some challenges for the Lutheran Aged Care personnel as the youngest resident by decades.
“He was understandably dealing with the daily frustration and despair at the impact of this condition on his body and mind, he was a very proud man and independent,” Mrs Ryder said.
“They worked with him until he felt safe and settled.”
Unit manager Clare Dawson described Mr Cox as an amazing man who made an impression on everyone.
“I used to refer to him as hell on wheels,” she said, laughing.
“He was a sweetie and he went through hell.”
Mrs Ryder said the staff went out of their way to regularly give her father his favourite meals of fish and chips and ice cream and helped him with gift cards for his grandchildren.
“They would make Dad feel so special at him becoming a grandfather,” she said.
“One of his last joys was smoking a cigarette out in the garden.
As Dad’s body deteriorated, his hand wasn’t steady enough to hold a smoke to his mouth and his beautiful friends at Lutheran Aged Care made him this awesome metal half pipe to rest his smoke in and it was attached to his wheelchair with some bendy wire.
“Clare and her team took so much weight off our family’s shoulders, during the times we couldn’t take it.
“The impact that they had on our family is priceless, true angels in human form.”
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