A new dementia ward opens at Ascot Gardens this week, with residents moving in from Monday.
The new ward, made up of two 14-bed cottages, is a state-of-the-art $11 million facility designed specifically with dementia patients in mind.
Ascot Gardens’ dementia unit manager Colleen Fitz-Gerald, said the facility was designed to create purposeful tasks for residents.
To make the unit “home-like,” it was designed with fully-functioning kitchens, laundries and sheds, and also has chickens and an assistance dog named Tilly.
Ms Fitz-Gerald says allowing residents to do their own tasks “is really important when you have dementia”.
“If you don’t have stimulation and activity to keep you going, the disease can just take over,” she said.
“Everyday activities are one of the few things you lose when you move into a facility.
“It’s really important to maintain an environment as home-like as possible.”
Regional manager Janelle Waters said the focus was on getting out of an institutionalised model of care.
“We’re aiming to reach what we call the home-care model,” she said.
One of the first residents to move in will be Barbara Evans.
Her husband Barry said the facility would be fantastic for patients.
“There’s plenty of room to roam around, room to walk, there’s plenty of quiet spaces, there are different ambiences,” he said.
“That’s what they want.”
Mr Evans said his wife was diagnosed 10 years ago, but she had only been in care a bit over two years.
He said at first they made a bit of a joke about it when she started forgetting things.
However, as dementia progressed it became difficult, frustrating and concerning.
By the time Mr Evans decided to move his wife in to care, he said she wasn’t eating, wasn’t able to look after herself properly.
He said it took 30 minutes to go from the lounge room to the ensuite, which was only a few metres away.
But “within weeks here she was feeding herself, she was active, interrelating with people much more easily”.
He said the new facility would be even better.
The walking loop, which goes inside and out, and the animals, would make a big difference.
“The dogs and chooks will be good circuit breakers, good distractions, for when things go wrong,” he said.