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Supporting seniors with disabilities

Victoria’s Villa Maria Rehabilitation Centre has moved to a new home and is expanding its services to support more seniors in the Knox community.
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Victoria’s Villa Maria Rehabilitation Centre has moved to a new home and is expanding its services to support more seniors in the Knox community.

Villa Maria’s rehabilitation service has settled into the new wellbeing centre on the third level of the multimillion dollar redeveloped Villa Maria Wantirna site, which also includes a 96 bed aged care residence and Gateway Service for adults with disabilities.

Operating from the Wantirna site for 34 years, the rehabilitation service has over time expanded to support 200 people each week to empower them to make informed, healthy lifestyle choices, keep fit and stay connected in their community. 

One of the newest sessions run by the centre is a 12 week trial Ai Chi program, held at nearby Knox Retirement Village in Wantirna South on Thursdays. 

Ai Chi is a form of Tai Chi practiced in the water and is aimed at improving balance among seniors. Falls are now the leading cause of injury-related hospitalisation among Australians aged 65 years and over.

Villa Maria physiotherapist and allied health assistant, Samantha Teo, said Ai Chi was extremely beneficial for people with health problems such as arthritis, with the water providing buoyancy to take pressure off joints.

Ms Teo said the slow and gentle movements in water also acted as a powerful meditation and relaxation technique.

“We focus a lot on the breathing patterns and it’s really good for people’s general wellbeing.  However our main aim is definitely focussed on improving people’s balance to help prevent falls,” she added.

Villa Maria Rehabilitation Centre team leader, Jo-Ann Petersen, said along with new programs such as Ai Chi, long running and popular programs, including the back groups, lower limb and better balance groups, would continue.

“Fantastic new streams are also being introduced as part of the Wellbeing Centre’s operations. This includes offering massage, traditional Tai Chi and gym programs to seniors in the Knox community as well as podiatry, occupational therapy, speech therapy and massage to residents of the Wantirna aged care residence. 

“This means we have Villa staff with Villa values and Villa culture providing services directly to the people we support,” Ms Petersen said.

“We are also implementing plans to extend our allied health services to people out in the community, to those accessing community care packages, and people living in local aged care residences.”

For more information on the Villa Maria Rehabilitation services and the wellbeing centre, call (03) 9800 7255.

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