Dementia rates in Australia continue to rise with it now overtaking heart disease as the leading cause of disease burden* among Australians aged 65 and over, according to a report from the Australian Institute of Health & Welfare (AIHW).
The report says that in 2022, over 400,000 Australians were living with dementia, a number that is expected to double over the next thirty years.
Locally, the Port Macquarie state electorate has the second highest prevalence rate for dementia in Australia. In response to this need St Agnes’ Catholic Parish, through its aged care service provider St Agnes’ Care & Lifestyle, has commenced building Emmaus Village – a residential community based on a proven, innovative model of care specific to the needs of people with dementia.
St Agnes’ Care & Lifestyle Executive Manager for Residential Care Paul Shields says the Emmaus Village model is designed to cater to the specific needs of individuals living with dementia.
“The model helps residents with the behaviours associated with dementia, normalise their living within a community environment, and slow the onset of the condition,” Mr Shields said.
“Broadly, I believe the aged care industry will be looking at adopting this approach to care in the long term and move away from the traditional nursing home model,” he added.
Paul Shields said that during the construction phase of Emmaus Village, the project team has been working with organisations such as Dementia Australia and the Dementia Friendly Community Alliance (DFCA) – Port Macquarie, to seek input into the design and fitout of the Village.
A focus group involving DFCA and the Emmaus Village Project Team convened on Wednesday 1 March, the third in a series of sessions to gather ideas and feedback about the project.
DFCA Chair Margaret Allen said members were keen to contribute to the project.
“So far our members, some of whom are living with dementia, provided input on the design of garden areas, signage, kitchen fittings and appliances, pathways, acoustic issues, building colours and windows,” Ms Allen said.
“It is very exciting to be involved in the co-creation of such an innovative project that is based locally,” she added.
It is anticipated that the focus groups will continue in the lead-up to the opening of Emmaus Village in late 2023.
*The term “disease burden” applies to the loss of healthy life through injury, illness or premature death.
Further information on the AIHW report is available at: https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/dementia/dementia-in-aus/contents/about
Images: DFCA provided input to the Emmaus Village project across services such as Activities Rooms, Café and Wellness Centre.