Dementia Sufferers Get New Respite Care in Southland

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By Smitha Nambiar | July 4, 2014 3:38 PM EST

Dementia sufferers and their care takers in Southland can now heave a sigh of relief as new dementia respite care has been set up in the city. This initiative from the Ministry of Health is in response to the increasing demand by stressed caretakers of patients suffering from dementia.

The Southern District Health Board, under the directive of the Ministry of Health, Southland has handed over the contract to the  Partners and Presbyterian Support. They will now run the respite care programme for dementia sufferers in Te Anau, Central Otago and Invercargill.

Noticing the rising ageing population of Southland, it was observed that more and more people would require help to deal with dementia patients, with the Ministry of Health having allotted $100,000 to fund the programme. This funding will facilitate 12 people to attend a centre-based one-day programme once a week in Invercargill. Three people will go for a one-day home-based programme in Te Anau.

"The hope is that by providing this respite it will lessen the stress on caregivers and allow people to remain home for longer," said Sharon Adler, manager of the health of older people and disability senior portfolio at the Southern District Health Board.

The number of individuals aged 65 years and above is slowly rising in Southland. While there were 11,946 people of that age group in the year 2006, it rose to 14,613 in 2013. This is a very serious matter since there are not more than 75 secure unit beds in Southland for dementia patients as of now.

Speaking about the need for beds, Julia Russell from the Presbyterian Support Services for Older People said that the requirement for beds at Peacehaven's secure unit is "seasonal." Meanwhile, the Rowena Jackson Retirement Village is renovating its dementia care unit of 26 rooms. Bright colours, special lighting and tactile surfaces are being used to make dementia patients feel comfortable.

Dementia has affected nearly 50, 000 people in New Zealand, and the number is expected to rise to 150,000 by the year 2050.

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