Overseas visitors praise Montessori practice

Villa Maria Catholic Homes has spent more than 12 months introducing the Montessori practice to improve the lives of people living at our 12 aged care communities across Victoria.

Staff at our aged care residences are reporting great outcomes and it was wonderful to share these experiences with visitors from Singapore, recently.

VMCH Residential and Retirement Services General Manager, Voula Yankoulas, said this was the second visit by Saint Theresa’s Home, a 200-bed aged care residence in Singapore.

‘They first contacted VMCH earlier this year expressing an interest in learning more about VMCH’s care model and were especially interested in the Montessori practise for aged care,” she said.

“Staff at our aged care residences use the Montessori principles every day when supporting residents. One great way to get an appreciation for how it is working is by seeing it put into action by our staff.”

While Montessori is traditionally associated with early childhood education, in aged care it aims to support individuals in a practical, respectful and enriching way. Individuals are encouraged to be as independent as possible; to have a meaningful place in their aged care community, make choices and useful contributions in their home.

All these Montessori features were shown and explained to a delegation of five members of Saint Theresa’s nursing team in early November when they visited VMCH’s Shanagolden Residential Aged Care, in Pakenham.

Most of our staff at VMCH have received training in the Montessori practise and there are signs throughout VMCH aged care communities that it is also creating an environment that supports people living with memory loss – another important feature of Montessori in aged care.

Staff at our VMCH aged care residences wear specially-designed name badges with their first name in large print. Signage around aged care residences feature high visibility colours – large black print and yellow backgrounds.

The Singapore delegation was shown Shanagolden’s dining rooms which feature self-serve buffet style food services. The aim is to allow individuals to serve meals and drinks for themselves and not have to adhere to a regimented meal timetable.

Saint Theresa’s Director of Nursing, Margaret Au, said the organisation wanted to investigate innovative practices in delivering person-centred care.

Like VMCH, Saint Theresa’s Home is a long-established Catholic not-for-profit organisation. It was created by the Little Sisters of the Poor in 1935.

“We’d like to look at different facilities because going forward we might be moving to another site which would have ageing in place like a retirement village as well as high nursing care and dementia support,” Margaret said.

“We’re interested in looking at different facilities and more importantly the model of care and learn about Montessori.”

And what did they think of what they saw?

“It has been great. As we drove in, it looked like a beautiful place. All the units that we have visited – high and low care – I think the way that it is set up is good … There is an emphasis on individualised care which is great,” Margaret said.

The Montessori practice in aged care is used at all our aged care communities across Victoria. To learn more about Montessori or making the move to aged care with VMCH call 1300 845 526.