Residents with dementia will be encouraged to gain more independence in a new and innovative memory support house.
Twelve residents from Corpus Christi Residential Aged Care in Clayton and St Catherine’s Residential Aged Care, Balwyn have moved to the co-located Cluny Memory Support House, which has been refurbished to suit a Montessori style dementia care practice.
Unlike conventional aged care environments, the VMCH approach is based on a Montessori environment and is distinguished by people doing and participating. Montessori environments are rich in opportunities for individuals to do as much for themselves as they can. This can be as simple as making their own beds, dressing themselves and assisting in chores within the residence.
We have introduced our care practice to support people living with dementia living in our residential aged care communities across Victoria. It aims to support people in a practical, respectful and enriching way. They are encouraged to be as independent as possible; to have a meaningful place in their aged care community, make choices and contribute to life in their home.
Corpus Christi Residential Service Manager, Sarah Pryor, says the new environment is light, bright, fresh and innovative, but still intimate.
“We have created a space which is designed in the Montessori approach,” says Sarah. “There is no caged in feeling. With glass hallways and doors that can be opened by residents, it gives the illusion of going outside, providing a sense of freedom.”
A feature of the memory support house are the visual aids which encourage residents to function independently in the space. This includes descriptive labels on drawers and doors, large name tags worn by all staff members, and the tactile and brightly coloured furniture.
To give purpose in their day, under the new care practice, residents will also be provided with opportunities to contribute to the running of the house. Normal everyday tasks such as the laundry, which can be washed, ironed and folded by the residents, and additional individualised activities will be arranged to suit each resident’s interests.
“We cater to residents’ lifestyle needs, and will work around their day to day preferences,” says Sarah.
“There is full access to the kitchen; they can choose their own meals from a bain-marie, make a coffee or have a snack. We will enable a level of independence and add more function to their days.”
Sarah believes that this new approach, along with higher staff to resident ratios will lead to increased participation and an improvement in residents’ quality of life. It is also anticipated that there will be a decline in disruptive behaviours, and a reduction in the number of falls, due to the ability to better meet residents’ individual care needs.
“We have been so excited to welcome our first residents to the house. It’s such a bright and inviting space, and we think there will be a number of great outcomes achieved through this environment, and the new VMCH Care Practice.”