Redefining Aged Care in the World’s First Microtown™ Community for Older Australians
Maximising independence in a home-like environment supports better quality of life.
With the rise in the aging population and inadequacies of traditional residential aged care, the need for new and imaginative ways of caring for older people is obvious.
NewDirection Care Bellmere is an Australian and world first, a $35 million state-of-the-art residential inclusive microtown community for the elderly and those living with younger onset dementia and complex care needs.
This pioneering approach to aged care provides residents with freedom of movement, independence and choice and recognises their unique needs, preferences, values and aspirations. It creates a world that is close to normality and is helping to rewrite the country’s aged care system.
The community opened in 2017 and resembles a typical Australian suburban community with 17 domestic-style houses located on six streets in a secure two-hectare site. Each home accommodates seven residents and features ensuite bedrooms, a contemporary open-plan kitchen, laundry, sitting rooms, and front and back yard. The properties come in a range of styles such as traditional, modern urban and country living that fit in with the lifestyles of residents.
Just like any suburb, NewDirection Care Bellmere has a town centre with a range of shops and services including a cinema, corner shop, café, hair and beauty salon, dentist, GP and wellness centre. Residents are free to move around the community and do the things they’ve always enjoyed doing, such as watching a movie on the big screen, chatting with friends over coffee in a café and pampering themselves with a beauty treatment.
In forging a new path in aged care, NewDirection Care have innovated at every step, from the design of the homes and the provision of services to the development of a sophisticated mobile monitoring system that incorporates movements sensors, telephony and CCTV in public and semi-public spaces.
To focus on each person’s individuality, they moved away from the routine-driven and task-focused approaches that are the norm in aged care and developed a brand new role that exists nowhere else in the aged care industry—their multi-skilled House Companions. There is a minimum of one House Companion™ Support Worker in each house and they form part of the ‘family unit’, creating strong relationships with residents and their families.
They wear everyday clothes and help with daily activities as needed such as preparing the menu based on what residents want to eat, performing chores and doing the budgeting for the household. They also provide medication administration and assist with personal care needs, including delivering the highest levels of care to those individuals that need it. In this, they are supported by a professional team that includes registered nurses and physiotherapists.
House Companions™ Support Workers operate around residents’ needs, giving them the independence and autonomy they wouldn’t get in traditional aged care settings.
Another innovation ensures residents really do feel at home at NewDirection Care Bellmere. Cutting-edge profiling tools have been used to place them in houses according to their values, lifestyle and who they are as individuals and not according to their physical or cognitive diagnosis. This also means that they live with like-minded people.
In the little more than two years since NewDirection Care at Bellmere opened, there have already been incredible results as a consequence of their innovative approaches. They include improved sleeping patterns, a reduction in some medications and little or no late-day confusion.
By being part of an inclusive community and living in a familiar home-like environment with as much independence as their condition allows, residents are enjoying a much better quality of life.
Natasha Chadwick is Founder and CEO, NewDirection Care.
For more information visit www.newdirectioncare.com.au
Natasha Chadwick is 2019 Telstra Australian Business Woman of the Year and also won the 2019 Telstra Medium & Large Business category award for the world’s first Microtown™, located in Bellmere, Queensland.