Thérèse and her dedicated team have delivered an outstanding and inspiring aged care facility here which is a testament to their dedication to delivering better care for our senior New Zealanders. The model is based on housing people in a home environment with 6 or 7 bed houses specifically designed and fitted out to reflect a cross section of lifestyles in NZ society. This makes for a more inviting and comforting place for residents to stay, very different from the standard institutional model. Rather than just placing people into available beds in an institutional setting, the CARE Village assesses each individual person for their lifestyle, their family unit, where they lived previously, their background and upbringing and then places them in the house which best reflects their life and with like-minded residents.
The CARE Village embraces the use of technology to support the care and supervision of residents. Promotion of safety for the residents is achieved through various wearable sensor-based technologies, which reduce overt limitations in the home environment and enable the residents to freely access the grounds of the facility to enjoy “neighbourhood” walks and tend to gardens, all in a safe and secure environment.
They all participate in normal Kiwi life (as far as they can dependent upon their particular needs) including shopping at the on-site village shop and cooking meals within their own house environment. Each house has a lead carer who provides for the overall care of the residents, and supports the residents undertaking activities of daily living such as cooking, cleaning and washing. According to the needs and interests of the residents, the lead carer co-ordinates a programme of activities including outings outside the facility, with inputs from the residents, occupational therapists and dieticians.
What was most striking on our tour was the comfortable and calm nature of each of the houses. All visitors and staff knock on the front door before entering (as you would in ‘normal’ suburban NZ) and then are treated to a very homely and warm environment. This is about as far from the ‘normal’ dementia unit experience as you can get (from my recent experience with a family member) and is refreshing to see. The residents stay in the house, which has become their home for the entire duration of their stay. They do not move out as their care needs change but rather the home adapts to suit (with the inclusion of hospital beds for instance). This preserves the feeling that they are in a home environment.
I could go on for some time on the inspiring work that is being done here by a not for profit charity group. Those of you who know me well know that I do not give recognition or endorsement lightly, so I would implore anyone with an interest in doing better for our senior Kiwis to take a trip to see Thérèse and her team and to get behind what is a very exciting initiative. And to remember they are doing this on a shoestring budget so any assistance you can give I am sure they would welcome. I for one am keen to offer my services where useful.