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Diversity and Inclusion series: Cherie's story

2 December 2019

“Having Parkinson’s has made me a nicer person,” Cherie said.

Welcome to our special series celebrating Diversity and Inclusion in MercyCare’s employees, volunteers and service users. Our stories are accompanied by Steve Wise’s remarkable photographs, that show how these ordinary, yet extraordinary, people are individually effecting change for themselves and the people around them. We hope you enjoy their personal stories.

Cherie Wells - MercyCare Residential Aged Care Joondalup Resident

“Having Parkinson’s has made me a nicer person,” Cherie said.

“Anywhere you go there is always people that want to help you. In the supermarket, people have even driven me home from the shopping centre.

“It makes you feel good. It makes me feel included. They do see a disability but their kindness, sometimes it is just overwhelming.

“The kindness comes from all people – young and old, all different nationalities.”

At just 39 years old, Cherie was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. She has lived with it for 30 years.

Prior to diagnosis, Cherie’s life was limited in its exposure to other cultures beyond her West Perth upbringing and devoid of dependence on the kindness of others.

“I was married and didn’t really need anybody’s help because I had a husband, but when my husband left I learnt quickly that there is a lot of nice people out there who are willing to help you.”

Cherie has been empowered over the past 30 years to find her inner-confidence.

“I’m now a more confident person. I used to be really shy but now I’m able to express myself. I’m more outward.

“Parkinson’s has also taught me more patience because everything is slower and you have to have patience.”

Cherie recently moved from her own home to MercyCare’s Residential Aged Care Centre in Joondalup. While happy with the move, she was devastated to leave her beloved Maltese Shitzu.

“I miss my little dog every day. They brought her in once but it was too hard on her, she was confused, didn’t know where she was. She deserves better than that. She has gone to a new home with friends of the Chaplain here, so she is being well looked after.”

Cherie can take some comfort in Residence dog Jock, a 14.5-year-old West Highland Terrier. Owner and Service Manager Ronalda Cowcher started bringing Jock to work after he was left pining when his dog companion passed away. Now Jock finds comfort in the companionship of residents like Cherie.

The switch to residential aged care has allowed Cherie to travel the world from within the Centre’s walls.

“I feel included here. The staff, who are so nice and lovely, are from so many different nationalities. It’s good because you get to know people from different countries.

“I was having dinner the other day and looking at all the different nationalities of the people serving and I was thinking, ‘I love being in this place’.

“I get to talk to people, I find out a bit about their country, what life was like for them before they came here.

“In a way it allows you to travel.”

In just six months, Cherie has become a beloved and active member of the MercyCare community.

“I’ll have a go at anything. I volunteer to do Bingo calling on the weekend. I guess in a way I am doing what other people have done for me – through volunteering I’m offering kindness.

“I also do the gardening – I just love it.”

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