A local program aimed at improving the quality of life for elderly people living with dementia and their carers has been nominated for the Premier’s Health Award – Our Community at the SA Health Awards.
Motivated by her mother’s diagnosis of Alzheimers’ and Parkinsons’ Disease, Dementia Care Social Work Coordinator Chad Garforth has been implementing innovative approaches to dementia rehabilitation for the past 10 years.
This led to introduction of The Innovative Approaches to Dementia Care program at the Whyalla Hospital.
The program uses a combination of Person Centred Care and Butterfly Model and Montessori therapy approaches, which have reduced hospital admissions, improved wellness and supported independence.
A group of up to 10 people with dementia meet at the Whyalla Hospital on Monday and Thursday to participate in the program.
Ms Garforth said the initiative helps families understand what dementia is and how to work with it, and provides a therapeutic component aimed at helping dementia patients retain their motor skills.
“It helps them to continue function as long as possible, which allows them to live at home for longer which is often their wish,” she said.
Ms Garforth said there was a huge change in participants of the program between their first session and their last.
“They start off a little bit reluctant, but they’ll agree because they love their husband or their wife they will try it. After the first session, they usually say they are coming back,” she said.
“You see them grow exponentially from that point forward. They treat treat each other as if they were a family,” she said.
Aside from in-house therapy, the group also get out and about in the community. They often go down to the foreshore to entertain those at the Beach Cafe with music or go out for lunch.
Country Health Connect Regional Team Leader Deb Pearce nominated the program for the Premier’s Health Award, having seen the huge benefits for those participating.
”Without that program these clients would be secluded in their home. They have a purpose to go out and socialise in the community and within the group itself,” she said.