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Montessori approach to dementia care

Australian residential aged care facilities are encouraged to use a new resource to develop person centred, flexible activity programs that focus on people's strengths, abilities and interests.
Alzheimer’s Australia Vic chief executive Maree McCabe
Alzheimer’s Australia Vic chief executive Maree McCabe

The launch of the new video resource Purposeful Activities for Dementia will reportedly assist health care professionals and family carers to engage people living with dementia in meaningful activities.

According to new findings resulting from a pilot project run by Alzheimer's Australia Vic, the lives of people living with dementia can be improved through engagement with Montessori based activities.

Alzheimer’s Australia Vic last year implemented a pilot project to evaluate the impact of Montessori based activities on the engagement of people with dementia attending planned activity groups at two sites in metropolitan Melbourne.

Researchers from the Australian Centre for Evidence Based Aged Care at La Trobe University undertook an independent evaluation that has revealed an increase in positive engagement amongst participants.

Dr Jo-Anne Rayner, senior research fellow at La Trobe University, says during investigations they observed a number of statistically significant changes.

"When visiting the two facilities involved, we observed a palpable change in atmosphere as the project progressed, each of them becoming a hive of positive activity,” she adds.

As part of the initiative, people living with dementia at the Baptcare Southaven Day Centre in Bentleigh and Grevillea House in Doncaster engaged in activities such as cooking, reading groups, gardening and dancing over a period of eight months.

Maree McCabe, Alzheimer’s Australia Vic chief executive, says: “For people living with dementia, being involved in meaningful activities is important for wellbeing as it provides opportunities for social contact, as well as physical, mental and emotional stimulation."

In turn, this leads to increased happiness, and affords individuals with a sense of achievement and meaning.

Michael Wilson, general manager for aged care operations at Baptcare, says: “We have been delighted by the positive impact the Montessori approach has had on the clients who attend our planned activity group.

"We encourage all facilities to use the resource to develop person centred, flexible activity programs that focus on people’s strengths, abilities and interests.”

Debra Kowalski, Baptcare Program Coordinator at Southaven, claims the Montessori approach has "changed lives for the better.”

The new resource is based on principles developed by pioneering Italian educator, Maria Montessori, in the early 1900s that have been adapted to the needs of older adults.

This approach recognises the importance of engagement that is tailored to the interests and abilities of each unique individual within their community.

Funding for the project was provided by the federal and Victorian governments under the Home and Community Care (HACC) Program.

Access the Purposeful activities for dementia resource



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