FOR MANY couples the diagnosis of dementia can be shattering. Then there is often the added pain of having to move a loved one into an aged care facility and spend the rest of their days living apart.
But a $90 million pioneering dementia-friendly facility in Sydney is launching a new concept in seniors living, giving couples where one person has dementia or a complex care need the chance to live together in luxury apartments.
Set to open in February, The Village by Scalabrini in Drummoyne is a residential care facility that will cater for more than 120 people living with dementia.
Building on the De Hogewyk dementia care model from the Netherlands, the facility has nine small households or “casas”, each accommodating between six and 14 resident suites and manned by qualified carers.
The casas are clustered to form a relaxed neighbourhood environment, and each has a front door or lift opening onto the bustling village central piazza which, when complete, will include everything from a pizzeria and hairdresser to olive groves and gelateria.
Millions has been spent integrating smart technology such as heat sensor flooring, keyless access and lighting that follows circadian lighting into the building’s design.
But what makes this project, built on the former Drummoyne Boys High School site, so different, is The Palazzo suite of 16 apartments.
Co-located with The Village’s residential aged care facilities on the third floor, The Palazzo offers accommodation and a care service for couples with differing care requirements or even individuals who don’t want to forgo their independence but have care needs that can’t be supported in a home environment.
“Too often when people are diagnosed with dementia couples have to separate,” said general manager Fiona Kendall.
“And I haven’t met a couple yet in that situation who wants to do that.
“This provides luxury apartment living with an integrated care package, providing independent assisted living for couples or individuals.”
And even if a resident moves into an aged care room in a casa or dies, their partner does not have to move out of the apartment they shared.
Scalabrini Village is a not-for-profit residential aged care provider founded in 1968 by a small group of Italian-Australian businessmen, with villages across NSW and emphasis on specialised dementia care and palliative care.
The new Village by Scalabrini will take flagship status as the group’s seventh facility.
Chief executive Elaine Griffin said the development was about enabling “meaningful living” and creating opportunities for people to continue to be who they are and to make their own decisions. “It’s a really unique aged care accommodation model that meets a massive need in the community,” she said.
The design and environment in which dementia residents live makes a huge difference to their wellbeing.
To this end, everything from new technology to dementia-enabling design features have been integrated into The Village by Scalabrini in Drummoyne.
“Dementia residents can’t rely on memory, their perception of the environment may be altered and they may have diminished communication skills, so enabling them to navigate their environment safely is an important part of the environmental design,” said Scalabrini Village’s dementia excellence clinical consultant Sharonne Pearce.
- Sensor floor that will show if a resident’s night time habits change so staff can be alerted and the resident monitored without being disturbed. If they fall, assistance can be sent immediately.
- Integrated ceiling tracks in bedrooms which allow discrete hoists to be installed if a resident needs lifting.
- Residents have keyless access to their own room and lifts that automatically open for them as they approach.
- Lighting throughout follows the natural circadian rhythm, to help with general wellness and sleep patterns.
- Resident’s room doors are painted in different bright colours, with memory boxes outside each room for photos and personal items.
- No nurses’ stations, endless corridors or back-of-house functions on show, helping to create a homely feel.
- Visitors will be able to enter each casa via a front door, not along a corridor or through other residents’ rooms.