By CRAIG McTEAR
THERE'S no way you'd get Thelma Cook into a nursing home, as long as she has a say in the matter.
The spritely Coffs Harbour 87-year-old is determined to remain in her own home, thanks to some help from people who care about her.
She speaks highly of the crew at Mid North Coast Community Aged Care Options, which supports people who are assessed as needing hostel-level care to continue living at home.
They visit Thelma for two hours each Tuesday to clean her bathroom and laundry and change her bed, and for another two hours on Thursdays to help with the washing.
If she is ever in distress in or around her home, all she has to do is push a buzzer hanging around her neck and an operator is talking to her within seconds, ready to call the police or ambulance if needed.
And she is able to get around more freely courtesy of a motorised scooter provided by the program.
"Whenever I need a prescription, my doctor faxes it to the chemist and the chemist delivers it," Thelma said.
"The IGA are very good, too. They take my order over the phone and bring it up to me.
"I can do as I like. I've got complete freedom. It's very, very important.
"Fancy me sitting in a nursing home all day long."
This is a particularly busy time of year for Thelma, who is making Christmas gifts for her family.
She has two daughters, five grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
On Friday, Thelma had a visit from the member for Cowper, Luke Hartsuyker, who announced a boost in aged care funding for the electorate.
The Federal Government has allocated an additional 226 aged care places, incorporating 30 additional residential high care places, 90 additional residential low care places, 75 community aged care packages and 31 extended aged care at home packages.
An extra $4.3 million will be invested in the area annually, focusing on aged care beds and aged care services in the home.
"As a result of funding, more than $11.5 million in infrastructure will be invested in a new aged care facility in Nambucca Heads and an existing facility in Yamba," Mr Hartsuyker said.
Mid North Coast Community Aged Care Options can be contacted on 6650 2000.