A ground-breaking new option in the way people living with dementia are cared for was launched today in the NSW Southern Highlands, with the official opening of Harbison Dementia Living by the Governor of New South Wales, Her Excellency The Honourable Margaret Beazley AO QC.

“Harbison Dementia Living will change the way we think about dementia,” said David Cochran, CEO of Harbison.

“Our model is based on the proven Butterfly model of dementia care – providing a home-like experience to support the independence, safety and comfort of people living with dementia who can no longer live at home.

“Our residents are encouraged and supported to participate in normal daily activities including cooking, gardening and doing the laundry. Being involved in familiar activities promotes a sense of wellbeing and independence,” Mr Cochran continued.

Harbison Dementia Living is located in the NSW Southern Highlands village of Burradoo (Bowral). The home consists of two separate households, capable of housing 15 people living with dementia in each.  The major point of difference is that Harbison Dementia Living is designed like a large country home located in specially designed dementia-friendly gardens.

“It appears as a regular home, but the clever use of technology ensures the best care for our residents while maintaining a home-like environment. The building incorporates modern, unobtrusive safety systems including an Australian-first ‘smart’ floor that can detect falls, spills and movement,” said Mr Cochran.

Harbison is a community-owned organisation, which has been dedicated to providing aged care services to the Southern Highlands for over 60 years, and Mr Cochran revealed today that the new Harbison Dementia Living service will really help make a difference in the lives of older people.

“The guiding principle of our model of care is that feelings matter most. Dementia may rob you of your memories or cognitive ability, but it doesn’t rob you of your feelings. Harbison carers are trained to make emotional connections with people and ‘do living’ together, rather than relying on outdated task-based schedules.

“The home is designed to support the therapeutic benefits of involving residents as much as possible in normal daily activities, to provide a sense of purpose and independence in a safe and familiar setting. Care is unobtrusive, like the safety and security systems designed into the building. The aim is to move away from delivering care and allowing people to experience care,” Mr Cochran continued.

On her tour of the facilities and official ribbon cutting ceremony today, the Governor of New South Wales, Margaret Beazley, praised Harbison for identifying the need for aged care in the region and raising their own money to open Harbison Dementia Living.

“Harbison Dementia Living is more than just a place for people to reside, it’s a place to live. Dementia is a rapidly growing challenge and Harbison chooses to take on the challenge. We encourage people to become better educated about dementia to ensure the Southern Highlands becomes a more dementia friendly community,” concluded Mr Cochran.

Harbison Dementia Living has just had its first residents move in and is accepting new residents from the Southern Highlands, Sydney, Canberra and the surrounding regions. For more information visit www.harbison.org.au or phone (02) 4868 6200.

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