There's no place like home.
That's the premise behind a slightly left-field initiative at St Francis Aged Care which last week saw personalised doors installed on the rooms of residents living with dementia.
The drastic change of appearance to 10 doors at the Catholic Healthcare facility are modelled closely on those of residents' former homes in a bid to, hopefully, trigger memories from their lives.
The effect is achieved by applying life-sized, stick-on decals to the existing doors, and follows a successful program at another Catholic Healthcare home, Emmaus Village, located at Kemps Creek in Sydney.
The personalised doors will not only help residents identify their room but will also hopefully inspire them to discuss their own family homes.St Francis' quality and recreational activities officer, Sonia Coles
That project featured in Domain in August last year, and within three weeks of its institution, it had seen a dramatic change in residents' behaviour.
"It stops intrusive behaviour, they're not going into other residents' rooms because they know which door is theirs now," Emmaus Village's residential care manager, Kate Todd, said.
Jennie Wade, care manager at St Francis, hoped to achieve similar results at Orange's home.
"We were keen to replicate the project for our own residents who found themselves easily confused," Mrs Wade said.
"This new initiation is more person-centred, and the doors will provide our residents with a sense of home and familiarity."
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St Francis' quality and recreational activities officer, Sonia Coles, said the change would have therapeutic, as well as aesthetic, benefits.
"We wanted to improve the look of the Dementia Support Unit and provide a more homely feeling for our residents when they enter their rooms," she said.
"The personalised doors will not only help residents identify their room but will also hopefully inspire them to discuss their own family homes."
"Invoking feelings and memories is very powerful for residents living with dementia."
The personalised doors were originally inspired by Dutch project True Doors, which recreated doors of residents' original homes using stick-on designs.
St Francis resident Rae Richards was an immediate fan.
"I love my new door. It's so much like me," Mrs Richards said.
With around 250 people diagnosed with dementia every day, it has become the second leading cause of death in Australia.
An estimated 425,000 Australians are living with the condition, and, barring a breakthrough, that's expected to rise to more than half a million by 2025, and more than million by 2056.
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