New Aged Care Facility in Box Hill

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Bluecross opened its newest aged care residence in Box Hill on October 22nd amongst much fanfare and a family open day with radio broadcasts, Mike Brady, games and a sausage sizzle. I had a quieter intro to this facility, being an Aged Care Placement Consultant I was invited before the opening for a preview.

The residence boasts a host of world-class facilities, including several lounges, dining and sitting rooms, activity areas, consultation and treatment rooms,

a library, hairdressing salon, private dining room, as well as a gymnasium and cinema .

I was impressed to learn they have a memory support environment for people living with dementia. With more people developing this condition as the population ages I am often called upon to find a suitable environment for my clients living with dementia.

The residence is designed with an emphasis on a homelike environment for residents, despite its state-of-the-art facilities according to Interim Chief Executive Officer Robert Putamorsi.

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The different functional spaces like a number of smaller sitting rooms and dining areas make it more homely and a private dining room is available for residents who want to share a family meal with their relatives. The bedroom suites are generous and feature kitchenettes.

Comprising a basement and three levels, stage 1 boasts 173 rooms and another 43 rooms will be added in the stage 2 development in 2019. $64million was spent on the residence as it becomes part of the stable of 33 aged care facilities owned and managed by Blue Cross across Victoria. With a growing demand for high quality aged care homes in Victoria I welcome this new addition as I source suitable aged care residential places for my clients.

 

The Gap For Older People With Behavioural Problems

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This week I was asked to assist two sisters to find accommodation for their 67 year old mother, Doreen.  It was one of the most heart wrenching experiences I have had as an Aged Care Placement Consultant for some time. Doreen had recently been diagnosed with dementia, although the sisters were aware she had been in gradual cognitive decline for some time.

One of the daughters, Rosie, and her 3 year old had moved from Queensland 5 months ago to live with her mother and be her carer.  When I went for the initial visit I found that Rosie and her child had been sleeping in the car in the driveway for the past 2 weeks because Doreen had been screaming at them, banging doors and talking to imaginary people every night.

Doreen was not eating or sleeping and was wandering. Rosie was getting calls from local shopkeepers worried about her mother, but she was unable to stop the behaviour and could no longer cope. So the daughters spoke with Doreen’s neurologists and it was decided to initially admit Doreen to a private hospital for a medication review.

I took Rosie and her sister Kate to visit 4 aged care homes that had dementia care.  They chose a home which they felt was the best fit; flexible and in a great location for friends and family to visit.  The plan was to admit Doreen there once her medication had been sorted at the hospital.

Just as they breathed a sigh of relief they got a call from the hospital saying they could not accommodate Doreen’s behavioural needs and suggested that she be admitted to a psycho geriatric hospital.  Despite frantic calls the sisters found there were no beds available for their mother in a pyscho geriatric hospital and Doreen’s condition was worsening.

There has always been a large gap in our system for older people living with dementia and exhibiting difficult behaviours or psychosis. Aged care homes are fearful of danger to current clients and there are very few psycho geriatric hospitals, leaving very few options for an ever increasing number of people suffering this way.

Having heard the desperation in Rosie’s voice when I called to check in on Doreen I decided there might be one more avenue I could try. Drawing on my many years of experience as an Aged Care Placement Consultant and my knowledge of the aged care system, I contacted the aged care facility they had selected and explained to the manager that the hospital medication review was not going to happen and the daughters’ current circumstances.  I asked her to consider admitting Doreen to the facility in the dementia support section and, if she became unmanageable, transfer her to an appropriate hospital.  This type of transfer is easier to arrange by a manager of an aged care facility than for family.

The great news is that management did not dismiss this out of hand and agreed to Doreen moving into the facility immediately.

Helping Elderly Aged Care Residents Improve Well-being Through Technology

A guide to help aged care organisations support residents to use technology and social media to stay connected with their loved ones was launched in Canberra recently. Tech Connect: Staying Meaningfully Connected in Aged Care is a valuable resource using technology to help make the lives of older Australians better. There is a growing trend towards using technology in aged care to support and uplift the lives of our seniors. As an Aged Care Placement Consultant I see the benefit of using technology to help residents in aged care stay connected.

Launched by Meaningful Ageing Australia, the aim of Tech Connect is to support residents’ spiritual wellbeing by helping them maintain important connections with family, friends and occasions. Written by Southern Cross Care spiritual wellbeing coordinator Beate Steller, who utilises technology at SCC’s Nagle Residential Aged Care to keep connections going, it helps to maintain residents’ familial relationships, helping to overcome physical separation.

Ms. Steller said “It is not just the technology but the way you facilitate it and make the connections before, during and after an event.” For example an 87-year-old resident of the facility realised she was too frail to attend her grandson’s wedding, so the wedding was brought to her. Shown on a large screen with residents celebrating with a high tea Pat was able to be involved in the wedding despite her physical limitations. “In the weeks leading up there was all the preparation, the couple skyped Pat before the wedding and afterwards it was all the reminiscing and the memories,” Ms Steller said.

Technology has been adapted in other ways too. Talk2Me aims to fill a gap through the development of a voice-to-voice translation tool, designed with the needs of older people, particularly those living with dementia, in mind. People talk into the device, which translates their message into another appropriate language, forming a communication link with another person. This will be a game changer for people with dementia from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds as it will improve the quality of care, with their carers able to understand their needs, thus reducing the need for potentially avoidable hospitalisations. The project is by the National Ageing Research Institute (NARI), Curve Tomorrow and Mercy Health and has received funding from the Department of Health.

Even pain can be better monitored through an App called ePAT, developed by Curtin University that assesses pain in people with dementia. A study, recently accepted for publication in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, tested the validity and reliability of the electronic pain assessment tool in people with moderate to severe dementia. The research found strong positive correlation in the psychometric properties between the ePAT App and the Abbey Pain Scale.

Using the camera in a smartphone or tablet to video an individual with dementia, then using facial recognition software to detect the presence of facial micro-expressions that are indicative of the presence of pain the App combines this information with other pain indicators, such as vocalisations, behaviours and movements, to generate a pain severity score. As pain is very common among people with dementia, who often lose the ability to communicate verbally as the disease progresses, this pain can go undetected. An App that can help detect severe pain can only help to make their lives more comfortable.