Forming friendships benefits service provision

Rebecca McIntosh says understanding Masuko Bunney’s life story and interests has helped deliver support that meets her needs.

Rebecca McIntosh says understanding Masuko Bunney’s life story and interests has helped deliver support that meets her needs.

Masuko Bunney and Rebecca McIntosh
Masuko Bunney and Rebecca McIntosh

Rebecca’s story

I first met Masuko and her daughter Linda at the end of 2015. Her daughter was concerned Masuko was not having enough social interaction with people her own age. I sat with both of them and explained my role and the programs Churches of Christ Care provide. Masuko was under the impression I was a government representative.

They decided for Masuko to attend ladies day once a week. This appealed as it involved socialising with a small group of ladies and going out for the day on the bus. As time went on and rapport was developed, she also started attending weekend cottage respite. Masuko has adjusted well into our respite programs and the ladies in her social group have made her feel very welcome. Having the same care workers has helped immensely.

Recently, Masuko and Linda attended our Keepsakes Café,  a forum to promote dementia awareness and allow informal carers to liaise with others to get advice and information on services.

Masuko is quietly reserved, caring and respectful of others. She enjoys listening more to conversations more so than speaking. Masuko takes pride in her appearance and her outfits match perfectly.

She really enjoys magazines, so when she stays at the cottage I ensure they are on the table. Another client noticed this too and has been bringing them in for her to read. Masuko also likes roses so we go walking through the Botanic Gardens to smell and talk about how pretty they are. One care worker started learning Japanese to be able to communicate with Masuko better.

We would like to introduce Masuko’s culture to the rest of the group and are planning an outing to eat sushi, which is one of her favourite foods. What I have enjoyed most about getting to know Masuko is learning about her life, understanding her cultural ways of being and how she identifies with others and the world around her.

Masuko’s story

I was born in Manchuria, China in 1932. I am Japanese and both my father and mother were Japanese. My mother passed away when I was six months old. My father owned a very profitable glass business and he had over 200 Chinese workers. I lived a good life with my father, step-mother, sister and cousins. I was a talented and devoted dancer and won many trophies, which led me to becoming a dance teacher. I was also a long distance runner. But then everything changed for us. My father was captured by Chinese communists and taken prisoner.

They took everything except the clothes on our backs and gave us 1,000 yen to go back to Japan. We were sent away in a coal train and then an old boat to Hiroshima where my father had to make a new home for us.

In the late 1940s to 50s, I worked in a canteen and helped in the hospital in a town called Kure. The Australian soldiers of the occupational forces were based here during the end of the Korean War. They were aiding in the clean-up from the aftermath of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. This is where my late husband Alec and I met and fell in love. We were married in 1954.

It was so hard to leave my parents, sister and relatives but I really wanted to go with Alec to meet his family and start my own life in a new country. It sounded so promising. When the boat finally arrived in Sydney Harbour I was so full of butterflies I could hardly stand.

Alec and I had four children, three boys and one girl and we lived in Wollongong, NSW. Alec passed away in 1975. I miss him very much. I live with my daughter Linda and her husband Rob and my two gorgeous grandchildren Bennett and Alanah.

I am now 84. Sometimes I don’t feel it. Some days I feel anxious about being old but it goes away. I am having problems remembering some things, but I am happy.

Linda found Churches of Christ Care while talking with other care facilities. She wanted me to spend some time with other ladies my age, so we can share our stories and be active. I enjoy going to ladies day on Wednesdays where I meet up with the lovely ladies with whom I have found a nice friendship. I first met Rebecca when she came to our house to talk with me and Linda. We found her very warm and friendly. It’s nice to see her every week. All the staff are wonderful to me. I enjoy their company and they’re always very helpful and always watching over me.

This article appears in the current edition of Community Care Review magazine.

Want to have your say on this story? Comment below

Subscribe to Community Care Review 

Tags: CHSP, Churchs-of-christ-care, Masuko-Bunney, Rebecca-McIntosh, you-&-i,

1 thought on “Forming friendships benefits service provision

  1. How interesting that ‘friendship’ is identified as the key to participation for an older person. Some years ago I wrote my Honours thesis about the double devaluation of care workers where the key finding was that ‘friendship’ helped care workers to mitigate the devaluation of caregiving. I wish we had a repository of research about care workers.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *