“It’s heaven here,” says Pio Franco Iervolino, formerly known by his street name, Giorgio, to describe his new home in an aged care facility.
Having visited several times there, I wouldn’t describe it as such, but after 11 weeks elsewhere, including five days in a psychiatric hospital, the seniors’ facility is an improvement.
“It was hard. Hard,” Pio says of his hospital stay. He says there was no privacy. The nurses dictated to him when he had to shower and watched him. He was accompanied when he needed a bathroom. For safety reasons, he couldn’t have a pen or shoelaces in his sneakers.
Pio was cooperative so he could earn a placement where he would have the freedom to come and go at will as long as he took his medication and returned when needed. He is grateful for this autonomy.
On the Boulevard
Recently, Pio returned to his old playground for a visit. Years of life on the streets and crippling back pain have left him hunched over, so now he uses a walker instead of leaning on his shopping cart for support.
Passers-by got double takes when they saw Pio sipping coffee with acquaintances at a sidewalk table at Peet’s instead of asking for alms at his old spot on the street behind the line of parked cars. Many stopped to tell him how good it was to see him and how handsome he looked. Pio beamed.
The aged care facility is near Olympic Boulevard and the Carthay Circle portion of council’s District Five. Pio hopes to relearn the ropes of bus driving, which he did when he worked as a stagehand about 15 years ago.
Future articles will explore more permanent placement options and Pio’s ongoing struggle to receive the funding and services he is entitled to and needs.