Telstra Australia's award goes to Aged Care innovator
INNOVATION in Aged Care housing has been recognised at the top level with NewDirection Care's Natasha Chadwick awarded the 2019 Telstra Australian Business Women's Award.
The founder and CEO of NewDirection Care has developed a "people first" model of care which has at its core five values - individuality, community, relationships, respect and empathy.
Translated into the real world, Ms Chadwick has taken those values and turned them into a blended community at Bellmere on Brisbane's northside which opened in late 2017.
"A lot of people talk about 'person-centred care'," she said. "To me that is almost a dirty word because in our industry, everyone says they do it but they don't.
"We work on the basis of individuals. If I look at you as an individual and everything that makes up your life and then look at how I can continue to provide those things for you so that you can continue your individual life within a new community, that's what it means to us.
"When we say individuality; if I have always woken up at 10am then that's what continues to happen when I move here to my new home, and then my day starts
"There is not this wake up at 6am so you can get to breakfast at 8am sort of thing. It's your life and it's the way you want to live that life."
Bellmere is an inclusive community.
"We take anyone who is requiring aged care services or who has younger onset dementia," Ms Chadwick said.
"It is a big task for us that we make sure that we get the blend right for our residents and if it's not right, then we move them and do all the things that make sure it's right for them."
The "microtown" is its own little dementia- friendly village with 17 well-appointed shared houses, each accommodating seven ACAT-assessed residents, meandering streets and shared outdoor spaces. Each house has a backyard, front porch, barbecue and fence.
The village also incorporates a retail precinct, which is open to the broader community, and has a wellness centre with a GP and dentist, a music studio, corner store, hairdresser and cafe.
"All of those services the general community use on a daily basis," Ms Chadwick said.
"We have lots and lots of people, even small groups such as mothers' groups, use the cafe on a regular basis. We watch the interactions."
Her team has found the that the openness of that area of the village seems to be breaking down the community's fear of being around people living with dementia.
The Bellmere residents move around freely, but are kept safe by wearing a mobile electronic device that tracks their location within the village.
"One of our residents used to say, 'it's just living in your home. 'What I have done is move from my home to a new home'", she said.
Ms Chadwick said the second NewDirection Care venue was planned for the Sunshine Coast within three years.
"We have made it public that we are licensing the model," Ms Chadwick said. The negotiations with other Aged Care providers are quite advanced. "The intention is to take the model internationally, not just nationally," she added.