New purpose-built community that people with dementia can call home

One of Ireland’s leading providers of homecare has taken inspiration from Holland to create this country’s first purpose-built dementia community, writes Evelyn Ring

Building has started on Ireland’s first purpose-built dementia community.

Called CareBright Community and costing almost €5.5m, it is being constructed on a four-acre site in the heart of Bruff, County Limerick.

There will be 18 homes, and each will have a living room, bedroom, bathroom and private garden.

The CareBright Community and day care centre will offer a range of amenities, including a cafe, beauty salon, gym, men’s sheds, and gardens.

The project is partly funded by the Department of Health — which provided €1.5m through the Health Service Executive (HSE) — and with €1.2m from the J P McManus Benevolent Fund and Pro-Am.

CareBright general manager, Colette Ryan, said the organisation had also provided money from its reserves to fund the project.

An additional €980,000 is needed to complete the project, and that money is expected to come from fundraising activities.

Ms Ryan said the project is based on a Dutch model, and it took six years to bring it to fruition.

It will be a person-centred model of care based on the very successful dementia community developed at De Hogeweyk, Holland.

New purpose-built community that people with dementia can call home

CareBright, a non-profit, social economy business with a staff of 250, found that small-scale household models had a positive impact on the quality of life of people living with dementia.

Currently, more than 48,000 people are living with dementia in Ireland, and the number is expected to increase to more than 141,000 by 2041.

However, dementia is not a solely age-related disease — there are more than 4,000 people under the age of 65 living with dementia in Ireland.

“We want people with dementia, who are physically active, to be able to get up in the morning and do the usual things that most of us take for granted,” said Ms Ryan. “What we realised from the Dutch model is that activity is critical for someone in the early or mid-stage of dementia.”

Ms Ryan said they want to use the model so people could continue to do everyday activities with some assistance for as long as possible.

“The complex will be built within a village so people can go down to the church, shop, or have a drink in the pub if they want to.” It is expected that people who will live in the centre will receive support from the Nursing Homes Support Scheme (Fair Deal).

“Residents in this community will feel safe and included. It will be a place where they will flourish,” said Ms Ryan. “Imagine having your new home, where you will be surrounded by all the things you love and cherish — that favourite chair, family photos, music you love and enjoy, a comfy bed with no alarm buzzing at 6am, and making choices which suit you. You can sit in your private garden and enjoy the sunshine or, if you enjoy gardening, you can just potter around there, or you can take a stroll, stretch your legs and garden in our expansive working and sensory gardens.

“When family and friends come to visit, you can prepare lunch in the kitchen and enjoy afternoon tea at the community café. If they wish to stay over, they can do so in your home or our overnight accommodation on-site.”

New purpose-built community that people with dementia can call home

CareBright, formerly known as Rural Community Care Network, has a team of around 250 carers. It was established in 1998 and is a leading provider of homecare in Munster.

It began in Co Limerick when Ballyhoura Development and Limerick Enterprise Board came together to provide home care for older persons and individuals with disabilities in Hospital, Co Limerick and Churchtown, Co Cork.

Ms Ryan said nearly 80% of their clients who have home care have some form of dementia, and that is where they saw the need to help them continue to live independently for as long as possible.

“If home care is not available for someone with dementia, there is nowhere for them to go other than a nursing home.

“We need to look at a different model of care for people with dementia who can no longer remain in their home. Our new community will open in September 2017, and I hope it will be replicated around the country.”

Ms Ryan, who has been general manager with CareBright since 2007 previously worked in managerial roles in the hotel and catering sector.

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