Calvary Cessnock Retirement Community and Alzheimer’s Australia NSW partner in ‘Story of our Lives’ dementia pilot program

Calvary Cessnock Retirement Community, in the NSW Hunter Region, and Alzheimer’s Australia NSW, have launched a ‘Story of our Lives’ pilot program to further enrich residential dementia care.

Calvary Cessnock currently offers aged care accommodation for 296 residents with 96 secure dementia accommodation places. Alzheimer’s Australia provides support and advocacy for the 342,000 people with dementia living in Australia, and the 1.2 million people who provide them with support and care.

CEO of Alzheimer’s Australia NSW and Chair of Calvary Care Board the Hon. John Watkins AM spoke at the launch about the importance of this partnership in helping to provide training and support to staff and families caring for residents living with dementia. He emphasised that this program will provide Calvary Cessnock with Alzheimer’s Australia’s expert knowledge to provide insights into how to build stronger relationships between staff, families and those living with dementia.

Calvary National Director, Retirement Communities Bryan McLoughlin explained that “‘The Story of Our Lives’ program reinforces that people with dementia can thrive in a relationship-centred environment, one that encompasses the needs of resident with dementia, their family and care staff. The program pilot will initially benefit residents at Calvary Cessnock, with the intention of rolling out to Calvary’s 11 other retirement communities.”

The launch in June opened with Calvary Cessnock family members sharing their experiences of dementia and how it has affected their lives and the lives of those around them.

Jan Delaney said “’I used to feel apprehensive going to see my mother, but the welcoming environment and support of the Cessnock Retirement Community allowed me to see that I wasn’t the only one going through this experience, and sharing with others became very helpful for me and my relationship with my mother. I then became a volunteer to help others who may be experiencing the same situation. This program will make a very positive difference for dementia residents and their families.”

Features of the program include:
• Support for residents and families through “shared care”
• Evaluating of the environment to cater to the needs of residents with dementia and their families
• Focusing on the initial steps to sustaining person and relationship centred engagement in day-to-day care
• Providing staff with a baseline of foundation dementia knowledge
• Conducting experiential learning for all staff to reflect on attitudes and practice

The launch was attended by CEO of Alzheimer’s Australia NSW and Chair of Calvary Care Board the Hon. John Watkins AM, Calvary National Director, Retirement Communities Bryan McLoughlin, General Manager Calvary Cessnock Kristin Smith, Alzheimer’s Australia NSW General Manager Services Susan McCarthy and Regional Manager Alzheimer’s Australia NSW (Hunter and Central Coast) Sally O’Loughlin. There were also representatives from Novaskill, Nurses Now, Hunter Consulting and WEA Hunter as well as residents, staff and volunteers from Calvary Cessnock Retirement Community.

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