Keen to know more about how to keep your brain healthy? Want to deepen your understanding of dementia and its treatment? An exciting new Brain Health Programme kicked off in the Bay of Plenty last month, with plans to eventually roll it out across all Metlifecare villages and care homes.

Programme developer, Bay of Plenty Regional Clinical Manager Mary Stewart,  hopes the new programme will end some of the stigma that exists in villages around cognitive impairment and dementia. Not only that, but she aims to help delay cognitive decline in our residents, ensure issues are diagnosed in a timely manner, and treat, support and educate residents, staff and families about all things dementia-related.

“Brain health and dementia has always been my area of special interest. My dad lived with dementia, so it is particularly close to my heart, ” said Mary.

“The biggest thing I hope this programme achieves is shifting the stigma around dementia. Instead of people shying away from it, I want them to start thinking “how can I support this person, and what can I do to help?”. Studies among the elderly show that in order to be emotionally well, you actually have to give – so by supporting people with dementia, you are not just helping them, but you’re also helping yourself.”

With her sights firmly set on developing a best-in-class Brain Health Programme, Mary has big plans for the initiative. Seminars for staff, residents and residents’ families are already underway, Metlifecare brain health champions have been identified, and research opportunities and partnerships are being explored. Opportunities for villages to become accredited as dementia-friendly communities are also being investigated.

“New Zealand has an ageing population, and with one in three people over 85 estimated to get dementia, the need for dementia care has never been greater. We have learnt a great deal through the work we are doing at Toi Toi (Metlifecare’s first secure dementia community), and we are looking to roll that expertise out to other villages, in order to benefit all Metlifecare residents and  families.”

The Brain Health Programme is one of many exciting new initiatives underway as part of Metlifecare’s Full Potential Plan and will play a vital role in our vision to offer a full continuum of care to our residents.