Summerset with 26 retirement villages has been officially accredited as ‘Dementia Friendly’ by Alzheimers New Zealand after 18 months of work to meet the programme’s standards.
Each village had to meet seven key dementia-friendly standards focused on what people living with dementia need now and into the future.
Summerset CEO Julian Cook said it had been a rewarding journey for the organisation.
“Becoming dementia-friendly means a lot to our staff and our residents. We’re really proud to
help people living with dementia get the understanding they need to get the best out of life.
“Over the last 18 months, we’ve trained 1,500 village staff on dementia awareness, introduced
new activities for residents to help keep their brains healthy, partnered with Dementia New
Zealand to increase awareness of dementia across New Zealand, and opened our second
memory care centre which uses leading dementia design principles.
"Our staff now have a deeper understanding of dementia and that will make a real difference not only to the lives of our residents but to anyone they know who is living with dementia", he said.
Alzheimers NZ chief executive, Catherine Hall, said Summerset’s journey was “a great story of
organisational transformation which has turned dementia-friendly concepts into a wide range of
practical initiatives and programmes.
“Dementia will affect nearly every New Zealand family at some point in some way - nearly four
out of five of us – and cost the country around $5 billion a year by 2050,” Ms Hall said.
“So, it’s critically important that we create a more dementia-friendly New Zealand in which
people with dementia feel valued and respected for who they are, where they can get the help and
support they need, where they feel safe and accepted and can live well.
“The more corporates and businesses that follow Summerset’s lead and become officially
dementia-friendly under our Dementia Friendly Recognition Programme, the better we will be
able to support the many thousands of New Zealanders who will be affected by dementia", she said.
Summerset’s specially designed Memory Care Centre first opened in Levin in 2017, and a
second memory care centre opened in Christchurch in March this year. A third memory care
centre is set to open in Rototuna, Hamilton, in early 2021, and all of Summerset’s new
retirement villages will include one. The centres are the first in New Zealand to offer secure
apartment-style living for people living with dementia and have been designed around world-class research into dementia living.
CEO Julian Cook said, “We hope our hard work means we make the lives of people, and their families,
just that little bit easier because we understand more of the complexities of dementia.
“Dementia affects more than your memory - it impacts sight, sleep, sociability, and has a real
effect on people’s self-worth because of the stigma surrounding it. It has no cure.”
It is estimated that 70,000 Kiwis are currently living with dementia. This is expected to grow to 170,000 by 2050 given New Zealand’s aging population and cost the economy around $5 billion a year.