Shared from the 10/29/2023 The Sydney Morning Herald eEdition

Reimagining care for those with dementia


The R&R (Respite Reimagined) program offers families a break and provides post-stay feedback and education.

A new initiative by Group Homes Australia helps people living with dementia to stay in their own homes for longer.

Around 400,000 people were living with dementia in Australia in 2022, according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, making it one of the country’s most significant health issues.

With the size of our ageing population on the rise, it is expected that the statistic will double by 2058 which will have a considerable impact on healthcare providers.

With numbers of people living with dementia expected to increase, providers like Group Homes Australia (GHA) are having to think outside the box when it comes to offering support.

Not only does GHA offer 24/7 care in small home environments within the community, it also recently launched an initiative that helps people living with dementia to stay in the comfort of their own homes for longer.

Founder and executive director Tamar Krebs says GHA has worked hard to reimagine the framework for its services in order to provide alternative care solutions to people living with dementia, and to their support families.

“We know that supporting families living with dementia is not a one-size-fits-all approach,” Krebs says. “Traditionally referred to as respite, our R&R programs are ‘Respite Reimagined’. It offers families the break that they need for the time that they need it, and provides post-stay feedback and education to help them keep their loved one at home for longer.”

For people living with dementia, staying in their home is an important way to ensure they remain safe in a familiar environment. However, this can come with challenges.

Providing support to families and supplying them with the necessary tools and skills to best care for their loved ones has been the driving force behind the development of this program, Krebs says.

“Supporting someone living with dementia can be demanding and emotionally challenging at times,” she says. “Due to the progressive nature of the condition, support partners may feel out of their depth and lack the knowledge, strategies and tools to provide care for the person living with dementia.”

It is clear that many families supporting people living with dementia are in search of alternative care options that go beyond the traditional residential group home offerings.

GHA’s R&R program includes several short-stay options which cater to a variety of different needs – be it a day stay, long weekend cover or seven days for holiday cover or a hospital transition. Included is a half-day educational course for support partners, aimed at providing strategies, tips and tools for when their loved one returns home.

As dementia comes to the fore, it’s essential that care providers develop dynamic alternative services that step outside the box. GHA is making its mark by doing just that.

Krebs says the provider looks forward to continuing its unique approach by striving to provide the best level of care possible.

“We believe in upskilling the family, social networks and people living with dementia to make Australian society more inclusive,” she says. “We are pushing the boundaries and doing dementia differently.”

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