IT couldn’t get much more senior than it did down at Rainbow in Maylands on Wednesday afternoon.
The multicultural aged care program, which specialises in supporting people from Eastern European backgrounds, celebrated the birthdays of four clients whose combined ages were a whopping 346 years.
Rainbow manager Danuta Palysz said the youngest of the quartet was a minor 67 years old, while the grandaddy of them all was Jan Chalubinski, who notched up his 100th year.
Ms Palysz says Mr Chalubinski, who doesn’t speak a word of English received his telegram from Queen Elizabeth, as well as messages from the governor general and Australian prime minister.
The Polish consul attended the celebrations, bringing a message from the ambassador, while priests from two Polish orders, the Salvatorian Fathers of Greenmount and the Franciscan Fathers of Maylands also joined in.
What made the celebration all the more remarkable was that after a few rounds of Happy Birthday in English, Polish and Belarusian, all four kicked up their heels and had a dance around the Polish Centre’s hall, Mr Chalubinski in the arms of his adoring wife.
Ms Palysz says Rainbow has been providing care for 24 years, the last 20 including home visits.
It has its roots in the Polish Association in Western Australia, which was formed in March 1950 to help many of the refugees who’d found themselves in migrant camps across WA.
Its aims was to maintain Polish culture and traditions, and to maintain close links with local and federal authorities in both Australia and Poland – particularly after the latter gained its independence.
After a great deal of fundraising, the organisation purchased a property in Brisbane Street, but by 1980 they’d outgrown it and bought their current home on Eighth Avenue.
Big changes are again afoot, with the federal government changing the way it allocates funds to aged care providers.
From next month, Rainbow will have to accept any person who qualifies for a funding package from the government. Ms Palysz says it’s quite a change, particularly given the current staff are carefully selected and are all bilingual.
But she assures people from Eastern European backgrounds that they won’t miss out, as the funding will simply mean an expansion of their existing services and a few more staff.
Ms Palysz says they’ve currently got 47 carers and a half-dozen or so admin staff looking after 107 clients.
She says the service is so popular there’s a waiting list – and not just for clients, but for staff also.
33 Eighth Avenue, Maylands