Happy birthday to a happy centre
Originally published as 'Happy birthday to a happy centre' in Local Ipswich News on July 20, 2022 and reproduced here with permission. Interview and picture by Peter Chapman.
The Aboriginal meaning for the word Wahroonga is “our homes” and that is just what the retirement centre that carries that name has been for hundreds of residents over the past 50 years.
This week BlueCare’s Wahroonga Lodge residents in Brassall retirement village held a celebration to mark the half century birthday of their centre.
In-house piano player, Margaret Buchanan, led the 30 residents in a stirring rendition of Happy Birthday, although just a few lost the count of how many cheers go with that song.
The history of Wahroonga goes back to initial discussions by BlueCare Nursing Ipswich in 1966.
They saw a need for full self-care accommodation and a need for units that could offer residents some support services such as meals and regular cleaning.
The first part of meeting those needs saw the Kiah and Carinya unit blocks built in 1971.
A year later the 30-unit Wahroonga Lodge was finished and for the past 50 years it’s rarely had a vacancy sign out the front.
Kerrie Price is typical of the many residents who have called the lodge their home since it opened its doors.
“I moved to Ipswich to be closer to my daughter four years ago only for them to pack up just a short time later because of work,” Kerrie said.
“It left me alone again and I wasn’t sure what to do and that’s when I found this wonderful centre,” she said.
“I had looked at a number of retirement centres in another Brisbane suburb for my mother some years ago and the only one of 12 that I inspected that was suitable was run by BlueCare. That’s why I was confident about moving into Wahroonga.”
Kerrie was looking for a comfortable place where she could access a few support services.
“I found it here along with a host of new friends, who importantly are all around my age.”
Fellow resident, Pam Dennis, summed up the warmth of Wahroonga Lodge when handed the microphone at the birthday bash.
“The friendliness of this place is just overwhelming,” were her heartfelt words.
You could feel that at the party which was another good reason for the residents to celebrate, not that they needed one.
Just living at the Lodge was reason enough.