Innovative dementia village for Tasmania

Innovative dementia village for Tasmania

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The Australian-first dementia village will be in Hobart's northern suburbs. Picture: Supplied

The Australian-first dementia village will be in Hobart's northern suburbs. Picture: Supplied

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A new purpose-built dementia village in Tasmania is being hailed as a game-changer for people living with dementia.

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A new purpose-built dementia village in Tasmania is being hailed as a game-changer for people living with dementia.

The state is set to become home to what is being touted as Australia's first suburban village designed specifically for people with dementia.

Alzheimer's Australia Tasmania chief executive Tony Reidy described the $25 million Korongee Village project as a "wonderful opportunity, with the potential to strongly support and assist people living with dementia in Tasmania".

"It is great to see yet another Tasmanian first, recognising the emergence of dementia as one of the most serious health crisis in Australia," said Mr Reidy of the village, which is based on international models including De Hogeweyk village in the Netherlands.

Australia has the fastest ageing population with dementia now the second leading cause of death. In Tasmania alone there are around 17,000 people with dementia and the number in Australia is expected to increase to over 1.1 million by 2056.

With 15 tailored homes built in a typical Tasmanian suburban cul-de-sac the village, which will be built on a derelict site at Glenorchy in Hobart's north, will be designed to allow residents to feel at home and wander freely in a safe and supported environment.

The "small town" will be complete with streets, a supermarket, cinema, cafe, beauty salon and gardens. The design will enable residents to walk around the village and participate in everyday life decisions such as popping out to buy a coffee or heading to the supermarket to buy groceries for dinner, which are not presently available to people in dementia care.

Korongee is a partnership between aged care provider Glenview, health sector superannuation fund HESTA, Social Ventures Australia and will be built with assistance from the Federal Government.

"It is great to see this collaboration on all levels including government bringing forward something that is innovative," Mr Reidy told The Senior.

"We're hopeful the model being put forward will be followed throughout Australia and the world."

Glenview chief executive Lucy O'Flaherty said the village would be the first of its kind in the nation and the model is aimed to provide real life experiences for those with the disease.

"Creating an authentic environment is the key to this cutting edge model with residents in each house to be matched by their similar backgrounds, experiences, interests and skills," she said.

"For example a person who has worked as a tradie all their life will most likely have a routine with early start and knocking off at 3pm. At the other end of the spectrum there may be creative folk who are not 'morning people' and who rise later and have later evenings and weekends that are highly social."

The operators are working with the University of Tasmania to come up with suitable decor and design for each house and to help decide which house and lifestyle profile each resident is suited to within the village.

Ms O'Flaherty said in addition, each of the 15 houses (with six bedrooms each) will be staffed by health professionals who will dress casually and act as "home makers" to provide an authentic home-like environment.

She pointed to the outcomes of residents at the De Hogeweyk village who were shown to live longer, eat better and take fewer medications and said the organisation hopes to see similar transformative health benefits at Korongee.

Construction is expected to start next year, and be completed by mid to late 2019.

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