Prior to COVID-19 and the decision to close community centres in Australia, 3Bridges successfully operated the Meeting Centre Support Program for people with mild-moderate dementia at full capacity out of Summer Hill and at Carss Park centres.
Due to Covid-19, the centres had to be closed almost immediately. This sudden closure had affected over 40 families and had interrupted the familiar routine which was so important for our group members.
As we are dementia specific service, we understood the consequences of the social isolation on people living with dementia and the anticipated additional pressure on carers. We knew we had to respond quickly and restructure from a group-based program to an individual, one on one support for our members and online and telephone support for our carers. We understood the importance of staying connected and continued to provide support to our clients at the most uncertain times.
There was a lot of anxiety during the first couple of weeks as people were uncomfortable having staff at their homes and our team members were afraid of exposing themselves and their clients to any risks of infection. However, within a short period of time, this anxiety eased as we knew each other very well and our clients were very happy to receive a visit and to see a familiar face.
We named our new program Individual Dementia Support Program (IDSP) that we managed to offer our clients within 2 weeks of cancelling the groups.
We provided the families with a self-help ‘survival kit’ to be used at home during the lock down period. The kits included colouring in sheets, colouring pens, Sudoku, puzzles, cross words, deck of cards, balloons and noodles for indoor balloon tennis, a small ball, terra-bands, etc…so all members of these families could do together with the person living with dementia. The bags were dropped by our staff at the doorsteps of the families’ homes.
We also provided the families with ½ hour exercise program by our Exercise Physiologist via a private YouTube link. The video consisted of the exercise routine that was undertaken at the centre prior to COVID. Additional on-line educational resources were also included.
Pictured is Amal Madani, the team’s Director, Reframing Ageing.
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