Group Homes Australia, leading dementia care provider, has launched its first Rementia Together Retreat (21st to 25th of August); making Group Homes Australia the first provider to deliver a Government-funded program in a retreat format out of the 10 Australian care providers awarded the Department of Health and Aged Care’s Grant in June 2023.
Dementia Australia estimates that more than 400,000 Australians are living with dementia. Of those living with dementia, over two in three live in the community. However, they are rarely offered the essential support needed to adapt to a post-diagnosis dementia life – even though the majority will live in their own homes for years.
Unlike any other Australian short-stay dementia program, the Rementia Together Retreat is revolutionising post-diagnostic care by developing their retreat framework based on re-positioning ‘dementia’ (to be ‘without the mind’ in Latin) to ‘rementia’ (to ‘return to the mind’ in Latin).
The 5-day program is framed as a ‘retreat’ rather than a ‘respite’. It is designed to equip people living with dementia and their chosen support partner with the emotional, psychological, and practical skills to live a fulfilling, empowered life post-diagnosis. In the retreats, the leaders explore what will bring each individual closer to their own sense of self and, consequently, rementia.
The concept of ‘rementia’ has been revived by Group Homes Australia’s Founder and Executive Director, Tamar Krebs.
Krebs said: “The number of people in Australia living with dementia is expected to grow to 800,000 by 2058. To support this growing group, we all need to think about dementia differently by focusing on what gives the person purpose, meaning, and relevance.
“We need to help people live beyond their diagnosis. We need to connect them to who they are and give them a sense of rementia – of returning to relevance and purpose and meaning.”
The program was co-designed by Group Homes Australia and people living with dementia under the mentorship of leading dementia researcher, Dr Meredith Gresham. The program is run by Program Director Donna Ward, whose own mother was diagnosed with dementia but lacked the essential early post-diagnosis support. Ward shares how her mother and siblings would have embraced a retreat where they could have received knowledge and support.
Ward said: “For most of us, the dementia diagnosis is terrifying for both the person being diagnosed and their loved ones. The Rementia Together Retreat is designed specifically to overcome this fear. It’s been carefully curated to provide real, lasting change in how both people understand dementia; to flip the script on its head, and channel the fear into empowerment.”
Group Homes Australia will host 33 Rementia Together Retreats over the next 3 years. The retreats will be held in both Sydney and rural NSW and accommodate 5 couples per retreat. The Retreat is fully funded by the Australian Department of Health and Aged Care. These retreats will go a long way to supporting the 1.5 million people involved in the care of people living with dementia.