Why choose Garden City Aged Care Services?
Garden City Aged Care Services is an aged care home operated by Alzheimer’s Queensland and located in Brisbane South. It’s currently home to 54 residents, occupying single room ensuites with their own kitchenettes. 14 of its residents have late stage dementia so are housed in Palm Court, a beautiful cottage that serves as the home’s secure section, providing full supervision for the residents’ safety.
“We take everybody from very mobile to very frail elderly,” explains Elaine Bray, the facility’s Director of Care. “We pride ourselves on delivering individualised care and having good relationships with family members of residents. We take detailed histories of all our residents, talk to their families and work out the best available strategies to give them the best quality of life,” she adds.
To live at Garden City, there’s a standard entry process, like every care home in Australia. Applicants need to have an assessment by ACAT, the home’s team, fill out an application form and then wait until an opening becomes available.
Currently the home has 70% female residents and 30% male. “The youngest person I have is 64 and the oldest person I have is 98,” says Elaine. “She’s probably one of my more active residents!”
Regular program and services
“From a clinical point of view, we offer a very individualised pain management program where the occupational therapist and physiotherapist are very actively involved. We have a falls prevention program that involves daily exercises and walk routines.
We also have a re-enablement program for people who come in and are virtually immobile or struggle with mobility. We put a lot of time and effort in to strengthen their core muscles to get them as mobile as they possibly can be,” explains Elaine.
The home also has a very active lifestyle program. “We run functional, social and community engagement activities,” says Karin Bongers, the home’s Leisure and Lifestyle Manager. The activities are “driven by the residents, so there’s lots of consultation. Risk is evaluated and we have a dignity of allowing a certain level of risk,” she adds.
These are things that individuals are accustomed to doing every day, like cooking, folding their laundry or doing the gardening. Many of the residents have their own gardening group and grow vegetables for the home’s kitchen.
“The residents dictate a weekly calendar of different events they’d like to participate in or do,” says Karin. Residents regularly go to the theatre if that’s what they enjoy, or go lawn bowling, or to the beach. “They go shopping, cook, go to the flower market every Monday to choose the flowers for the home, then come back and arrange them. Often, they’ll have an afternoon on the CityCat on the river,” says Elaine.
“I’m always looking out for events that the residents can participate in and volunteer their time,” says Karin. “If, for example, one of the local schools have a cake sale planned, I’ll contact them and we’ll do a heap of baking for them – which also gives our residents a sense of purpose and value.”
“We also have residents who are musically orientated so my role is to ensure they can maintain those roles in the community so, for example, I organise for them to perform at a seniors’ group or at a school concert,” adds Karin. It’s important to uphold those sorts of roles for individuals within the community. “If a resident’s been a gardener all their life, we’ll link them with a bushcare group - or if they’ve been of strong faith, we’ll link them with churches.”
Activities for residents who may have late stage dementia
For our residents who may have late stage dementia, the activities they participate in should be both beneficial and achievable for the individual. “We certainly don’t do childlike activities – they have to be age-appropriate, have purpose and meaning for the individual,” explains Karin. “We’ll do things like go grocery shopping or go for coffee - there’s meaning and it’s achievable but it’s not stressful for residents.”
Garden City also runs daily exercise sessions and individuals from the secure section exercise with the other residents. “They still integrate with each other - it’s encouraged to make sure they’re not isolated,” says Karin.
In February 2016, Garden City had a complete refurbishment to their main dining area and lounge. “We’ve got beautiful new artwork, furniture and a new outdoor area. We also put in a new quiet room, off the back of the lounge room,” says Elaine.
The living environment
“There was a lot of consultation with the residents and their families,” explains Karin. “The space beforehand looked quite institutionalised - one big room with chairs all against the wall – now it’s more like a home,” she adds.
The space accommodates lots of different groups so if a resident likes to watch TV, there’s an area to do that. If they’d like to be outside, there’s a pretty setting to do so. Or if they’re accustomed to being on their own or just with one or two others, there’s smaller rooms and a private area. They’ve also got their own tea and coffee-making facilities so when friends and family visit, they can offer them a drink and sit together in a private area within the larger space.
Colour, patterns and textures
Alzheimer’s Queensland’s Interior Design Manager, Katherina Sparti designed the spaces and coordinated the finishes and furnishings. Her vast experience in aged care and training in dementia design means she has a real understanding of the use of colour, pattern and textures for people with dementia.
“We were very careful about the surfaces that we chose, that there were no steps and no shadows to give the appearance of steps - because that can be confusing and a trip hazard,” explains Elaine. The team also “chose colours that were bright but also restive, rather than bright and really stimulating,” says Elaine. “Often a lot of bright colours can over-stimulate the mind of a client with dementia because they have trouble processing so many textures, patterns and colours. It doesn’t mean they’re drab – they’re actually quite beautiful,” she adds. Line of sight was also important in the re-design, as was unobtrusive observation, so that, for example, there wouldn’t be a nurse’s desk in the middle of the loungeroom.
The refurbishment has been welcomed by residents. “They’ve just loved it. I thought they’d move the furniture around as it was before but they’ve kept the new look going and they like it,” says Elaine.
Why choose Garden City?
People choose to come to Garden City because “of the care that we give and the relationships we build with our residents. We try to enrich their lives,” explains Elaine.
“Our residents continue to be a part of the community, they can still have a meaningful and valuable lifestyle – and have absolute choice over their day-to-day life,” says Karin. “The first thing we’re taught as children is to be independent so it’s the last and most frightening thing people want to lose,” she adds. No-one wants to lose their independence or choice – and at Garden City, there’s no fear of that happening as we always put our residents’ needs first.
Read more about Garden City Aged Care Services or if you’d like support or further information about dementia, please call our 24-hour Advice Line on 1800 639 331.
Words: Ash Anand