“I went on an aged care study trip to Europe in 2014 and was very impressed with St Monica’s in Bristol design,” says Allen Candy, Life Care Chief executive officer (CEO). He decided to incorporate some of the features into Life Care’s facility in Aldinga Beach Court, resulting in an extensive expansion with nine houses of 12 – 15 residents in each house.
The houses include a kitchen, dining room and lounge areas. Using the latest in dementia-friendly design principles, the kitchen and dining areas are ‘the heart’ of the home where residents and staff interact and participate in activities that reflect normal life; residents are positively encouraged to take part in everyday activities such as cooking and cleaning if they show an interest.
“There are no corridors like you used to see in traditional care homes and we have subtle signage to assist residents,” highlights Mr Candy. Breaking tradition in other areas, rather than be up and dressed by a certain time, residents at Aldinga Beach get up in their own time, and can go to the kitchen to make their own breakfast.
“Staff, volunteers and residents can mingle and engage in a more natural environment,” he points out. Plus staff have received further specialist training in dementia care. “Equipping staff in a more proactive way, enables them to interact and pick up the signs of changes in behaviours early on,” he says.
This results in staff managing behaviours differently, and the houses been much calmer. Personalities and interests are also taken into consideration. “Staff spend a lot of time with families to find out more about the resident and what resonates with them,” confirms Mr Candy. “It’s about creating the right environment too – a resident might move into a different house.”
Life Care is keen to change the perceptions of dementia and is currently running the internet campaign LIVING with Dementia, to encourage a greater understanding of people living with dementia. Mr Candy points out while residents may not be capable of doing some things they used to do, they are still people. The videos depict residents from Aldinga Beach engaging in activities based on what they can do and like to do.
Mr Candy explains another aspect of the campaign is an acknowledgement of the client’s life, their family unit, their career and the events that have made them who they are.
This has resulting in some interesting revelations, such as 93-year-old Barbara being called ‘Dynamite’ because she was the fasted with a hose when serving as a volunteer firefighter in WW2. Another resident was crowned ‘Miss Myer’ and throughout the 60s and 70s she owned a number of iconic Adelaide hotels with her husband including the well-known Hackney and Finsbury Hotels.
The series of videos of are being uploaded regularly to social media are being shown to staff across the organisation and at other presentation opportunities.