Lavania participated in our HomeShare program for almost three years, living with home owner Margaret.
Holdsworth HomeShare is designed to connect housemates for a mutually beneficial living situation, and Lavania’s presence at Margaret’s house meant her family had confidence she was safe and comfortable in her own home, and that Lavania’s wonderful cooking would make Margaret’s evening meal enjoyable when Margaret is not at her children’s for dinner!
Several evenings a week, Lavania visits Margaret in residential care in Bronte. Margaret is living with dementia, and Lavania shares the responsibility of settling Margaret into her new space with Margaret’s daughter and son.
But Lavania is not Margaret’s daughter, nor is she a blood relation at all. In fact, Lavania’s commitment to the woman she describes as ‘feisty, kind, caring and generous’ comes from a special bond that blossomed through spending almost three years living with Margaret as part of Holdsworth’s Home Share program.
Their story is not necessarily one with a happily-ever-after ending, because understandably, seeing Margaret deteriorate is difficult on Lavania. Sometimes as Lavania is tucking her into bed at the residence, Margaret looks around her room and asks where Lavania is sleeping. “It’s like she’s had her wings clipped,” Lavania says with a heavy heart.
The years they spent together, though, that’s where the magic happened. And for Margaret’s family, connecting with Lavania through Home Share meant Margaret could delay moving into residential care, because they knew she was happy at home and safe with Lavania by her side.
And by her side she was. The two of them hit it off from the very first meeting.
“We just gelled right from the beginning,” Lavania says. “We both love food. The first question I asked Margaret at our first meet and greet was ‘are you allergic to any food?’ knowing some older people have food restrictions. But she looked at me and laughed and said ‘as long as I don’t have to cook, I can eat anything’.” During their Home Share relationship, this was the perfect arrangement, because Lavania enjoys cooking a variety of foods and Margaret was a willing taste tester each night.
Lavania says living with Margaret took a little bit of getting used to, particularly because of Margaret’s quick wit and the fact that Lavania had never shared a home with anyone else apart from family.
“In the beginning she’d be sarcastic and it would take me a few minutes. If I still didn’t get it, she’d give me her typical cheeky wink,” Lavania says.
Lavania holds dear to the beautiful memories of their time together. From Margaret trying to set Lavania up with handsome strangers when they were out in public, to the support Margaret and her family gave Lavania through the lockdowns when she wasn’t working, to the quiet nuggets of wisdom Margaret shared when Lavania needed them most, Lavania treasures it all.
Lavania decided to give HomeShare a go when she saw an ad in the paper. She was planning a move to Queensland for work and thought Home Share might be an option for her in the interim, but then the pandemic hit, she stayed put.
“And as they say, the rest is, ‘our story’, not just history.”