In the World Alzheimer Report 2020 ‘Design, Dignity, Dementia: Dementia-related design and the built environment’, ADI CEO Paola Barbarino writes: “The challenges to the idea of good design for people living with dementia are, perhaps, becoming clearer.”
“They are emerging from the human and disability rights arenas, the pressure to include people living with dementia in the design process, [and] the economic and numerical scale of the provision of services…”
In this blog from Orquidea Tamayo Mortera, Therapeutic Recreation Specialist at Summerset, Orquidea outlines how the leading independent retirement village operator is not only meeting the evolving challenges of caring for people living with dementia but responding in innovative ways which also meet ADI member Alzheimers New Zealand’s Dementia Friendly standards.
Bringing the best to life at Summerset
In 2020, our independent retirement villages were awarded with the Dementia Friendly Award from ADI member Alzheimer’s New Zealand.
What this means is that our homes meet all of Alzheimer’s New Zealand Dementia Friendly standards, which include implementing person-centred care, education for staff around dementia, accessible environments and information, and more.
We understand the power of education for cultural change, both within our business and our communities. In our partnership with Dementia New Zealand, we can play our part by providing greater education about dementia, to remove its stigma for our residents, their families, our staff, and the wider community, in many ways.
Summerset has recently employed two dementia specialists whose role it is to look at the journey of the person living with dementia and their families, wherever they reside in our community.
The role is multi-faceted and involves working with, and supporting, clinical staff and residents’ families, to ensure that our residents living with dementia are assisted to live rich and meaningful lives. The role also involves working alongside design, sales, and marketing teams and other working groups to ensure that all staff understand and embrace the philosophy of what is needed to ensure we provide the best care, the best environment, and the best support.
The ADI conference in 2022 highlighted the fact that people living with dementia should have a strong voice in how we grow and shape what is provided, and Summerset is looking to appoint a resident representative in our quarterly dementia forum.
Rehabilitation and therapy
We know that play is a powerful thing and for a person living with dementia, therapy in the form of recreation can be especially powerful. Therapeutic recreation help rebuild skills, improve mood, boost quality of life, and strengthen social connections. At Summerset we understand that people living with dementia have the same social needs as any other people.
They need social interaction and engaging, meaningful activities that prevent boredom and give the person living with dementia a sense of purpose and belonging.
Part of the support provided to a person living with dementia, is assessing their strengths with a focus on rehabilitating dormant abilities using therapeutic recreation. We have a national team of Therapeutic Recreation Specialists (Diversional and Recreational Therapists) working across all our Care Centres and Memory Care Centres. This therapy uses activities designed according to a person’s specific needs that aim to help them with their physical, cultural, spiritual, emotional, cognitive, and psychosocial health.
Staff and technology
Though we know having assistive technology enhances wellbeing for seniors and people living with dementia, we know that it’s our staff who give our residents the greatest value. Nothing can beat the power of human connection.
For all our staff, we provide an online platform which includes current and relevant training to our industry, as well as dementia itself. We have also have Memorandums of understanding with universities, colleges, and schools, in which we welcome students to do projects or undertake a placement with us – something we are very proud of and our greatest contribution to training and helping the next generation of healthcare practitioners in Aotearoa.
For people that require specific training, we work in partnership with Te Pūkenga (New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology), to provide our staff access to specific apprenticeships such as horticulture, recreational therapy, or chef training.
We also support gerontology research, in addition to assisting universities with studies that influence the wellbeing of seniors and people living with dementia. By investing in quality learning, teaching and research opportunities, we aim to enhance the wellbeing of our residents and families, our staff, the wider community, and New Zealand’s ageing population.