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50 Faces of IRT – Eileen’s new home

Care Services Connectedness Positive Ageing Stories
  • As IRT celebrates 50 Years, we’ve dug into the archives to share stories of some of the faces that make up our family – past and present
  • Eileen Hansell was the first resident of IRT William Beach Gardens’ care centre when it opened in 2005
  • Until her new neighbours moved in, she enjoyed the undivided attention of the centre’s staff
07 January 2019
Eileen Hansell with her dog Tess

We've dug into the archives to share the story of Eileen Hansell - the very first resident to move into IRT WIlliam Beach Gardens' care centre when it opened in January 2005

“I am hoping that some of my new neighbours, when they arrive, enjoy a game of cards or a cross word as much as I do as I am looking forward to the company. In the meantime I have got all these caring staff to myself and I intend to enjoy their undivided attention as long as it lasts.”
Eileen Hansell

14 years ago, IRT opened the doors of its newest aged care centre – a 120-place development at IRT William Beach Gardens.

Eileen Hansell was the very first resident. At first, she had the place all to herself. But that quickly changed when her new friends and neighbours moved in.

Eileen passed away several years later in 2008, but the courage she showed to leave her home and become a valued member of the IRT family has not been forgotten.

Today, a new group of residents call IRT William Beach Gardens home. They are a vibrant community of like-minded people that ensure Eileen’s tenacity and passion for life lives on.

We’ve dug into the archives and found a copy of the IRT Newsletter announcing this special milestone.

Senator for NSW, Concetta Fierravanti-Wells with then Minister for Ageing, Julie Bishop opening IRT William Beach Gardens care centre

Excerpt from “IRT News – February 2005, Vol. 14 No. 1”:

The first resident has moved into IRT’s newest residential care centre. The 120-place development at Kanahooka is an extension to the site’s existing village William Beach Gardens.

Eileen Hansell, 82, was the first resident to take up occupancy on January 17. Mrs Hansell moved from her family home of 55 years in Fairy Meadow due to her ongoing health care needs. 

“Although I was reluctant to leave my home I believe that the time has come to accept help from others to better manage my individual needs. I consider myself very lucky to be able to call William Beach Gardens my new home. I have my own room with bathroom facilities, which is located in a modern house-style building.”

Sadly, Mrs Hansell lost her husband back in 1981 and has since mourned the passing of both her son and daughter in recent years. She has many good friends and a number of hobbies including cross words, reading, knitting, gardening and playing cards. 

“I am hoping that some of my new neighbours, when they arrive, enjoy a game of cards or a cross word as much as I do as I am looking forward to the company. In the meantime I have got all these caring staff to myself and I intend to enjoy their undivided attention as long as it lasts”, she laughs.

Built at a cost of $17 million, the development is one of IRT’s largest aged care centres built in Wollongong for many years. 

 

The official opening of the residential care centre at IRT William Beach Gardens was held six months later in July 2005. Over 200 guests gathered to witness the then Minister for Ageing, The Hon Julie Bishop MP officiate over the proceedings.

When it was opened, the care centre was the largest in the Illawarra region and provided the community with one of the newest and most modern aged care centres in Australia.

 
Eileen presenting Minister Julie Bishop with flowers

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