Steadily climbing rates of dementia as people live longer has prompted two Warkworth women to take action to improve their care and provide relief for their caregivers.
Sue Robertson and Linda Wall plan to establish an activities-based day service for sufferers of serious health conditions living in and around Warkworth.
The service, to be called Mahu Mahi, will provide day care for those over 65 with early onset dementia and those over 45 with conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis, that keep them isolated at home and requiring fulltime care.
Using Statistics New Zealand figures, Sue and Linda estimate there could be more than 150 people over 65 in the Mahurangi area suffering from dementia alone.
Currently, there is no all-day respite care available in the area, which can provide quality care for sufferers and give their caregivers a much-needed break.
For more than 12 months, the women have been searching for a suitable venue for the facility in the Warkworth area, so far without success.
To get things rolling, the pair have decided to renovate and use the basement of Linda’s Warkworth home, which can accommodate up to six clients initially.
But the women hope ultimately to find a bigger venue in Warkworth that could handle more clients.
The ideal facility would have a single level, suitable parking to drop off clients, kitchen and bathroom facilities, a fenced section so clients can’t wander off, and plenty of space for activities.
A suitable three-bedroom bungalow might be ideal and could potentially serve the needs of up to 12 clients a day.
Unfortunately, Ministry of Health funding for respite care is limited. To make the service affordable, the women have been looking at Council venues with nominal rents but have yet to find a suitable location.
Another possibility is someone might come forward willing to donate a house.
The women also hope to secure funding from the District Health Board.
Sue, a qualified diversional therapist, says clients will enjoy a range of stimulating activities at Mahu Mahi, such as music, art, clay modelling, gardening and outings.
She is especially eager to provide activities that clients enjoy most, with the goal of increasing their sense of self-worth.
“They may forget what you say, but they never forget the way you make them feel,” she says.
Linda’s interest in the project was spurred by looking after her husband, who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease.
She says providing the right kind of activities can work wonders. Her husband, who has an excellent voice, stopped singing completely shortly after he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
Today, after benefitting from music therapy, he is not only singing again but learning new songs.
Linda and Sue hope to open Mahu Mahi in October, depending on progress on the basement rehabilitation.