A state-of-the-art Memory Care Centre (MCC) for people living with dementia is among the features of a $50 million main building at Summerset Richmond Ranges, which opens on June 3.

Summerset Chief Executive Scott Scoullar said dementia was affecting more and more people as our population ages.

“Memory Care Centres will be an integral part of all our future villages as we respond to the growing number of people living with dementia; currently it affects 70,000 people but that will nearly triple to 170,000 by 2050,” he said.

“Sadly there is no cure at this point but our memory care centres allow those living with dementia to live with dignity, and gives their families the reassurance their loved ones are being cared for
in the best way possible.”

Summerset’s MCCs were based on an award-winning model and comprised 20 large, one-bedroom apartments around a central hub. This allowed residents to live in a homely environment while also being secure, with help on hand 24 hours a day, Scoullar said.

“They also have unique features to help residents find their way around, including a circular design, wall murals, personalised apartment doors and colour coding for amenities like bathrooms.”

Dementia New Zealand Chief Executive Scott Arrol said the demand for dementia care was already placing increased pressure on the health system, so it was great to see Summerset making such a commitment to, and investment in, this important service.

“Summerset’s MCCs are focused on helping residents to live their best possible lives with a personalised, caring approach. It’s provided in a safe, secure environment that engages residents in activities that provide the right levels of stimulation and engagement, which is so important for their health and wellbeing.

“This aligns with Dementia New Zealand’s vision and the increased understanding of the importance of brain health when it comes to preventing, delaying or living with dementia.”

The MCCs draw on research from Scotland’s Stirling University, which is renowned for dementia design, and features include:

  • Twenty large one-bedroom apartments within a secure environment;
    An interactive Tovertafel sensory lightbox table for mental stimulation, scientifically
    designed to help dementia residents enjoy mental stimulation, social activity and physical
  • Wayfinding features including a circular design so residents cannot get lost and visual
    cues, such as giant flower murals, to help residents find their way around;
  • Bringing elements of nature into the centre’s design to stimulate residents, including a
    secure courtyard garden;
  • Technology to discreetly monitor residents; while ensuring care and support remain close
    at hand;
  • Personalised activity and care plans for each resident;
  • Specially trained dementia staff who work closely with residents and families to support
    them through the changes they are experiencing; and
  • Individual programmes and activities designed by diversional therapists to cultivate
    cognitive skills.

Summerset Richmond Ranges is the company’s fourth state-of-the-art MCC, with the others being in Levin, Christchurch and Hamilton. They will be a feature of all future villages. The first residents of the Richmond MCC will move into their new homes in June.