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Salvation Army reports positive benefits from dementia care model

As Dementia Awareness Month comes to a close, a leading aged care provider shares early outcomes from a new model of care showing reduced isolation among residents living with the disease.

Earlier this month survey results released by Alzheimer’s Australia showed that people with dementia were almost twice as likely to have high rates of loneliness, highlighting the theme of this year’s Dementia Awareness Month which is “you are not alone”.

But the Salvation Army Aged Care Plus says its recent implementation of a British dementia care model appears to be effective in addressing the issue of loneliness for people living with dementia.

Since July the organisation has been rolling out the Buttlerfly Household Care Model at its Cairns Aged Care Plus Centre at Chapel Hill in Queensland and the Mountain View Aged Care Plus Centre at Narrabundah in the ACT.

As Australian Ageing Agenda has previously reported, the model was pioneered in the UK by Dementia Care Matters and moves from a task-focused institutional approach to one guided by each resident’s interests, feelings and emotions (read that story here).

The Salvation Army said that the first three months of implementation had seen the re-organisation of residents with dementia so they were now living with those experiencing the same level of the disease.

Other small changes, including employees ditching their uniforms and wearing casual clothes to work, were generating reports of increased resident morale and an enhanced sense of inclusion, the provider said.

Tania da Fonseca, centre manager at The Cairns Aged Care Plus Centre, said the daily routines of people living with dementia had given way to a more relaxed unscheduled day allowing residents to engage in activities of their choosing.

“The holistic care model is about so much more than physical changes; it also addresses the emotional and spiritual needs of the resident living with dementia as carers tailor the resident’s daily routine to suit their individual needs,” she said.

“I can already see that these changes have relaxed the atmosphere and sparked colourful conversations between residents and carers,” said Ms da Fonesca.

Peter Bewert, Aged Care Plus executive manager of care services, said the improved relationships observed in response to the changes implemented so far had been phenomenal.

“This is a direct result of the training and improved engagement of our staff, who are focused on enhancing each moment for all of our residents,” he said.

Baptistcare hosts ‘silent disco’

Elsewhere, major provider Baptistcare recently held a silent disco for residents at its Gracewood facility to help mark Dementia Awareness Month.

The event was part of the provider’s Music Connection Program, which connects residents with the community using music.

Residents, staff and their relatives came together to listen and dance to music on their own headsets. The provider said the intergenerational disco was popular with all age groups, each person choosing from a selection of songs from Pink to Frank Sinatra and dancing to their own beat.

Shizuka Yokoi of Baptistcare said the music program was designed for people who had trouble communicating verbally.

“Sometimes our residents with dementia find it difficult to express what they are interested in. When they listen to music that reminds them of a favourite time or a wonderful day they had, suddenly they smile.”

She said the stories residents told were very often triggered by the music.

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