8 June 2018
Dementia Specific Care Units – By Interchange Australia Consultant, Suzanne Eustace
The care for Dementia clients is undergoing revolutionary changes throughout the world. Research has shown that entering an aged care facility could create stress and accelerate the decline for those with Dementia. Dementia is the second leading cause of death of Australians contributing to 5.4% of all deaths in males and 10.6% of all deaths in females each year.
In 2018, there is an estimated 425,416 Australians living with dementia, 191,367 (45%) males and 234,049 (55%) females.
The concept of care for people with dementia is experiencing some revolutionary changes.
The building of Hogeweyk in 2009, in Weesp Netherlands is a world first. It is a nursing home disguised to look like the outside world, it houses 152 residents. It helps people with mild to severe dementia. The village comprises 23 specially designed houses each with 6-8 residents. Each Home has a caregiver who cooks, takes people to do the grocery shopping at the village market and watches over them to ensure their safety. They use an in-house currency so it provides that continual real life experience. The facilities include a theatre, café, streets, squares and a bar. The theatre and restaurant are open to the public as a means to raising extra funds. The village has set up houses which differentiate lifestyles ie Homey, Christian, Artisan, Indonesian and Cultural.
In normal society people live together with other people sharing the same ideas and values in life, the fact that a resident can’t function normally in certain areas due to their dementia does not mean that they no longer have a valid opinion on their day to day life and surroundings. The décor reflects their lifestyle and every house manages its own day to day activities and the residents can move freely inside and outside the house as the area is contained. There are gardens, squares and parks that enable the residents to go out and get some outdoor contact in a safe environment.
Closer to home we have a new project being built in Tasmania called Korongee, located north of Hobart on a derelict site. Tasmania has the oldest and fastest ageing population. It is Australia’s first suburban village specifically designed for people with Dementia and will reflect the local Tasmanian landscape. It will be based on international best practice models including the Hogeweyk village. It is a $25 million dollar project funded from Commonwealth, local community services area and Hesta funding. It aims to provide life experiences in a real environment, they are free to wander around in a supported environment. They hope to have 90 residents with no age limit and it will be appropriate for early onset dementia residents.
In California, the first Dementia village using Reminiscence Therapy has been set up. This form of therapy has proven to reduce anxiety, soothe aggressive behavior, prevent wandering and improve quality of life. It is a day centre in San Diego called the Glenner Town Square based on a 1950’s era… It is based on a town encompassing 8,500 square feet, 24 buildings and 12 storefronts. It includes a restaurant, barbershop, pet store, library and museum. The Dementia client will be able to spend the whole day exploring this world independently in small groups, with a supervisor or with the family. It will open later in 2018. They hope to gradually build more centres throughout California.
Other concepts in Dementia care include the Butterfly Scheme which provides a system of caring for people living with dementia in a hospital. The scheme started in the UK to enable staff to use skills from the Butterfly scheme to care for inpatients identified with Dementia. It has been very successful in the UK .
Triggering positive memories from the past is often the goal for families and dementia care professionals. These centres are offering a new way of looking at how we care for our population with Dementia. We can only hope that these exciting concepts come to Australia sooner rather than later.
Here at Interchange Australia we provide 1:1 support and group based activities for people with dementia. For more information, please call one of our friendly and experienced Consultants on 1300 112 334.