Our dementia day centres at Lavender Cottage (Selwyn Village) and the Anchorage (The Community of Saint Luke, Remuera) are an important feature of our range of support services for older people living in the community.
They continue to be highly rated by our clients, families and by the Auckland District Health Board NASC team (Needs Assessment and Service Coordination) for the quality of the care, meaningful engagement in life activities and the warm and supportive environments they offer.
The difference these services make to our clients and their families was magnified when the centres had to be closed due to COVID restrictions.
The centres provide a wide range of stimulating and enjoyable programmes for clients to participate in. At Lavender Cottage, our long-standing Baby Buddies volunteer initiative resumed in April following the various COVID lockdowns, with more mums, babies and toddlers attending than ever. These playgroup mornings, which are hosted on a rotational basis at Selwyn Village’s care homes and at Selwyn Heights, have been further boosted by the parents and babies graduating from the SPACE programme. (SPACE is a partnership between Anglican parishes and the Parenting Place, offering weekly meetings for new parents to share experiences, explore parenting and children's development and to make new connections.) Our Baby Buddies mornings provide a natural transition for the mums/dads and babies once they complete the SPACE programme; at the same time, contact with the little ones provides considerable benefits to our seniors and even eases the symptoms of some age-related illnesses.
In addition, clients attending Lavender Cottage engage in art therapy sessions (led by Masters students of Whitecliffe College of Arts and Design) and music therapy (delivered by a music therapist from the Raukatauri Music Therapy Centre and supported by a dance movement therapy student). Such activities enable both group and one-on-one interaction and promote discussion, reflection, meaningful communication and social connection.
Recently, the third phase of the Cognitive Stimulation Therapy (CST) study has also commenced, which is undertaken in association with Auckland University. CST is an evidence-based, structured group therapy for people with mild to moderate dementia which has been shown to improve memory, to have a positive effect on mood and to improve people’s quality of life. Facilitated at Lavender Cottage by a member of our diversional therapy team who is an approved CST facilitator, it consists of group sessions with clients participating in a variety of activities designed to enhance general cognitive and social functioning. This university study into the benefits of CST will be an important addition to the body of research aimed at improving the communication and problem-solving skills of those living with dementia.
Keeping in touch through lockdown
As a result of the COVID lockdowns over the course of 2020/21, both centres unfortunately either had to close completely or could only host a limited number of clients due to the need for physical distancing. Our staff kept in contact with their clients throughout each lockdown, telephoning them on days when they would have normally attended the centre, in order to maintain the relationship and provide clients with social connection, conversation and something to look forward to.
At the Anchorage, staff developed imaginative activities boxes for each of their clients and delivered them to the families. Each box contained six activities such as ‘Reminisce’ and ‘Famous New Zealanders’, as well as poems, music and trivia quizzes, jigsaw puzzles and other games and resources to stimulate memory recall, encourage understanding and cognitive ability, and promote communication and interaction. The activities were accompanied by specially written instructions, designed to aid family members in connecting with their loved ones and to maintain clients’ cognitive progress and so prevent any skill regression.
When the easing of restrictions enabled the centre to re-open, clients were able to return to the Anchorage once again to enjoy the benefits of fellowship, engagement and community with their wider Selwyn family.