An innovative model of support and newly renovated, home-like living spaces have come together for residents living with dementia at Randwick.
The all-new interiors have been redesigned into several smaller, domestic-scale living, dining and kitchen areas. Watching residents relax in a sunny corner lounge area, or family members make tea at the island bench in one of the two open kitchens, it’s clear that the new environment is already having an impact on quality of life.
“We really want families to be involved, allowing residents to feel like they have continuity of their past life in terms of sharing meal times together and being with their loved ones,” explains Janine Grossman, Director of Professional Services.
A new model for dementia care
The changes go much deeper than the cosmetic improvements to the space, however, as SCU is also a testing ground for the new Montefiore Dementia Model (MDM) that will ultimately be extended to other dementia units across the organisation. Grossman has spent several years researching leading dementia living environments and best practice support around the world, for the past 18 months alongside on-staff Dementia Specialist Dr Jacki Wesson.
The MDM is a tailored application of this knowledge, combining domestic-scale living spaces, the latest behavioural techniques in supporting people with dementia, and new ‘homemaker’ staff who bridge traditional care, dining and lifestyle roles.
“The advantage of integrating this style of living within existing residential care campuses,” Grossman adds, “is the continued access to the breadth of Montefiore’s other leading nursing, clinical and allied health services and staff.”
Daily activities on the menu
According to Dr Wesson, the MDM is based around encouraging people with dementia to be more actively involved with familiar daily activities.
“Home-based activities – cooking, cleaning, gardening, laundry – are often familiar tasks that are relatively easy to participate in for people with cognitive impairment,” she says.
The model also focuses on supporting changed or responsive behaviours and quality of life through environment and activities. “The way we support people living with dementia is really in quite an exciting space at the moment,” adds Dr Wesson.
While homemakers are undergoing training in how to enable residents to participate in this way, it’s also a learning experience for residents. People who have been living in residential care for some time will be encouraged to re-learn some of their daily life skills. “As with all these types of skills, if you don’t use it, you lose it,” Wesson explains. Those coming from their own home into the new dementia living space will be encouraged to maintain participation in the things they enjoyed doing when living independently.
Interior designer Lisa Stein usually applies her talents to private residences, which is precisely why she was selected to plan the living spaces and finishes of the new SCU. “It’s been a challenge, but so rewarding to see it all come together,” Stein says of collaborating with the team to create the feel of a high-end home, at the same time ensuring that it met the needs of a working aged care unit and the new MDM. The result is an elegant, welcoming and practical space filled with shared wooden dining tables, comfortable seating grouped into various living zones, and stylish décor accents. As with any home, the kitchens are the heart of the new SCU, featuring stone-clad island benches and domestic appliances. Homemakers and dining staff bake and prepare food here, and residents are encouraged to participate in food preparation. Seating around the islands make them a hub for interaction and leisure and lifestyle activities.
For more information on the new Randwick Dementia Living area or to arrange a tour, please contact the Residential Accommodation team.