At Group Homes Australia, we believe that the environment is a contributing therapeutic factor for someone living with dementia. If the environment is too big, it can be overstimulating and disabling, causing the person living with dementia to feel vulnerable. Whereas a small-scale environment has many benefits. Alzheimer’s Disease International delivered the World Alzheimer’s Report last year, called “Design, Dignity, Dementia”. In this report, it shares 10 best practice principles that help a person living with dementia to live well. Since 2012, GHA has been living and breathing these principles in our homes.
While living with dementia and experiencing brain changes, changing the stimulants that the person is exposed to is important. Dementia reduces the ability to filter stimulation and can cause distress and unnecessary angst, or can have the opposite effect on a persons mood. In the World Alzheimer’s Report, one of the 10 principles of design for people living with dementia is “optimizing helpful stimulation”.
Stimulation comes in many different forms, such as: sounds of music and tv, positive smells of cooking of baking or unhelpful smells like incontinence. Something to think about when exposing a person to stimuli is how long they have been exposed to it and is it helpful for unhelpful? For example, a family gathering can be considered very positive stimuli with engaging conversations, lots of family sitting around a dining room table and grandchildren running around and playing. This positive experience can turn sour for the person living with dementia if they are exposed to the noise for too long. The stimulation will go from being a positive experience to a triggering, agitating moment. A care partners responsibility is to help identify helpful and unhelpful stimulation and look to optimize or minimize where appropriate.
If we can assist with answering any further questions, please don’t hesitate to contact our Resident Relations Manager for support on 1300 953 196 or email Group Homes Australia Home Support Office. The Group Homes Australia (GHA) care model is firmly built on the belief that people living with dementia thrive in a home environment. GHA homes are ordinary homes, on ordinary suburban streets, where 6 to 10 residents live together. Residents have 24-hour care, provided by a team of staff that we call ‘Homemakers’.