No one expects to face homelessness, just ask Ernie, who is 80 years old.

After a family health crisis, Ernie Botting was forced to look for a new home on the Sunshine Coast, and with the recent rise in the cost of living and rental property crisis, the odds were stacked against him.

Ernie’s Home Care Package (HCP) Advisor and Registered Nurse Colleen Dunn was instrumental as a sounding board, who steered him in the right direction to ensure he found accommodation that would accept his new poodle Debbie.

“It was a horrific period for Ernie – no one should ever have to go through the stress of not knowing where they’ll be sleeping tomorrow, especially as a senior,” Colleen said.

Through his HCP funding and support of Just Better Care, Ernie rose above these testing times and found ‘home for now’ in a mellow caravan park in the Sunshine Coast hinterland.

The former builder has proved he has not lost any industry knowledge or handyman skills, by so cleverly fitting out a 26 seater bus with the assistance of an electrician, which he now lives in.

But living two kilometres out of town without transport came with its challenges.

“Ernie came to me with the idea of using his funds to purchase an electric trike,” she said.

“I said we can definitely look into this.”

“Ernie said its good exercise, it will keep me fit and it’s good for my health.”

A few weeks into operating his new electric trike (almost every day), it seemed a lifesaving piece of technology was missing during a routine ride to the shops.

“I got a little adventurous going off road, so no one really knew where I was going,” Ernie said.

“And if I hit my head half way up a dirt trail, I could be in real trouble.

“Fortunately Colleen was able to organise a GPS on my phone. So now I feel safe and confident whenever I want to explore new routes.”

When reflecting on the whirlwind of emotions over the past six months to now, Ernie expressed his deep gratitude for all the help and practical advice along the way from Colleen.

“Ernie felt as if when his marriage broke down the whole world was going to end and he was going to die,” Colleen said.

“I feel like I’ve given him a sense of hope for his next chapter.”

“Just Better Care is one of the best companies I’ve been with. Through my Home Care Package, Colleen has done stuff I didn’t realise could be done,” Ernie said.

Ernie now has his sights set on building a sturdy crate so Debbie can come along for each trip on the trike – whether that is on the bitumen or gravel.
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