On a Thursday evening last month, seven married couples living in Lifeview’s residential aged care home were treated to a night of fine dining and romance.
Staff dressed in white shirts and bowties, tables were lit with candles and decorated with roses as the onsite cafe transformed into a Parisian restaurant named L'amour.
“My wife had a smile on her face for two hours,” said one of the residents, Michael, who married his wife Jenny at the south-west Melbourne facility in 2019.
Each couple sat at their own table and enjoyed a three-course-meal of smoked salmon, duck, lamb cutlets and créme brulee, all prepared by the head chef.
Upon entry, each gentleman was handed a corsage to present to their wives.
“When I went in there, it was done up like a bloody night club. I thought I was at the crown casino, it was beautiful.” said Michael.
The surprise dinner was arranged as part of Lifeview’s Magic Moments initiative, which organises special events for residents based on their wishes and interests.
Together with the help of volunteers from Lifeview’s other facilities and senior management, the staff delivered five star service all evening, pouring fine wines and playing classic love ballads.
During the dinner, Michael serenaded his wife with Nat King Cole’s ‘Unforgettable’.
For Lifeview resident June, the opportunity to get dressed up and see everyone in their finest was her favourite part of the evening.
She and her husband Ron will celebrate 59 years of marriage later this month. The pair have six children.
“I love everything about him, he drives me crazy,” she said.
For the married residents at Lifeview, navigating life in and out of lockdowns has made having their partners close to them very important.
“We do spend a lot of time together,” said Ron.
“We decided a couple of years ago that we’ve loved each other as much as we ever have.”
Lifeview's social support manager Annitta Macauley said the staff were in tears while watching the joy and adoration from each couple that evening.
“We wanted to give that opportunity to sit together with no one else on the table and reconnect with each other,” she said.
According to Annitta, allowing space for intimacy and privacy is important when caring for a married couple in residential care.
“You knock before you enter, that’s the number one rule whether you’re in aged care or at home.”
This week, each resident will be surprised with framed pictures of their evening to show off to their loved ones.
For the staff, the opportunity to offer an unforgettable evening for their residents is one of the most rewarding aspects of their careers.
“We were still able to create a very magical night that everyone is going to remember for a very long time,” said Annitta.
“This is why we do what we do.”Do you have an idea for a story?
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