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Multiple pathways of dementia care

Carer Shirley Johnston enjoyed her fi rst visit to Coopers Café. Photo by Sam Marsh and courtesy of Blue Print
ACROSS QUEENSLAND Blue Care is working to assist people with dementia and their carers.

Dementia is a group of diseases of the brain that attacks memory, speech, behaviour and emotion, and affects an estimated 250 000 Australians.

A new café at Blue Care Coopers Plains Respite Care opened in August to provide an informal way for people with dementia and their carers to connect with others in a similar position and with support staff .

Assistant Coordinator, Ruth Mackinnon, said the café offers much needed respite for carers who are often isolated by their
caring role as well as a safe social opportunity and the chance to chat with staff about care issues.

“It is very diffi cult for carers to find time for themselves to recharge,” she said.

“Social isolation can be unbearable.

“The cafe enables people to have coff ee in lovely, quiet surroundings and to meet others.

“It is quiet and safe, and there is no feeling of awkwardness about behaviour.”

Ms Mackinnon said not only had clients and carers benefited from the café, currently open on the first Saturday of every month, but staff had also volunteered their time and enjoyed meeting carers in the informal setting.

“From a staff point of view it is really nice to have the time to talk with carers without phones going or a program running.

“It’s important so we can help them find any support they need, or just to listen,” she said.

Elsewhere, Blue Care Pine Woods Aged Care Facility has been successfully running an innovative program for the past six years that assists patients with dementia, particularly women.

Clinical manager Suzanne Meakin said giving women a doll to take care of (‘doll therapy’) can give some women a sense of purpose and self worth.

“It gives them something to do, something to care for,” she said,

“I think a lot of ladies in particular get their self worth from caring for others and being needed and suddenly they’re needed by this ‘baby’. ”

Ms Meakin emphasised that the treatment doesn’t work for everybody.

“Sometimes it’s very successful and sometimes it hasn’t worked at all.

It depends on the individual case.”

Pine Woods also runs an interactive support group for people whose relatives have had to be admitted to residential facilities for dementia care.

“People who have relatives with dementia are in the grieving process because obviously the person that they used to know is no longer here,” she said.

“We provide education on dementia, advanced care planning, grief and loss."

Photo : Carer Shirley Johnston enjoyed her fi rst visit to Coopers Café. Photo by Sam Marsh and courtesy of Blue Print