Care rethink

A multi-million-dollar landmark aged care village specifically designed for people with dementia, inspired by an overseas model of care, will begin construction in a matter of months on the Limestone Coast.

The tender for the new facility, the Ridland Villas, by Mount Gambier’s Boandik Lodge was launched last week. At least five local, state, or national construction companies are in the running to build the estimated $11m property that has been in the works since 2016. “We have been working towards this for a long time,” Boandik Lodge chief executive Gillian McGinty (pictured) told The SE Voice, adding: “We’d really like it to be finished by the end of 2022.”

Set to be located next to Boandik’s head office on Lake Terrace East, Ridland Villas is named after longstanding board member Bruce Ridland and draws inspiration from Amsterdam’s Hogeweyk. Hogeweyk is a town created to cater specifically to people living with dementia and includes homes, a supermarket, a café, a hardware store, and a hairdressing salon, among other amenities.

Ms McGinty visited Hogeweyk with a cohort of other aged care leaders in 2014 to “see the dementia village and think about how it might work in a smaller setting in a regional area”.

She described this standard of aged care as “the model of the future,” adding that such a style had been brought into focus during the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety. “It’s (Ridland Villas) going to be something that will be state-of-the-art as far as dementia accommodation goes, in our region, in our state and primarily in mainland Australia,” she said.

Ms McGinty said a Tasmanian facility, built by someone who also attended the Australian aged care study trip to Amsterdam, had used the Hogeweyk model. Through the federal government, Boandik Lodge has been granted licenses for 48 residents to live at Ridland Villas, which accounts for roughly a quarter of the number of people with dementia in the care of the aged care provider.

Ms McGinty said the village would be built around a small home model, “where it’s just like living at home”, adding a large component of the build would focus on landscaping. “We started the landscaping design around the same time or before we started the building design,” she said.

“It’s about people having lots of areas of interest to go and visit and to do something meaningful. “There’s a lot of external area, there’s the villas, and then there are communal spaces. “And that includes the general store, the cafe, the hairdresser, laundromat, and consulting rooms.”

While the whole build is expected to cost around $11m, much of this funding is yet to be raised. Ms McGinty said roughly $1.5m had been granted to Boandik Lodge by the federal government. The remaining funds are expected to be fundraised, to come from an accommodation payment system for incoming residents, from Boandik Lodge’s financial reserves, and potentially from borrowings. “That will be determined once we have the final price,” Ms McGinty said.

According to Dementia Australia, as of 2021, there are roughly 472,000 Australians living with dementia. Without a medical breakthrough, the number of people with dementia is expected to increase to 590,000 by 2028 and 1.76 million by 2058, Dementia Australia says.

In 2019, dementia overtook lung cancer as the second leading cause of death of Australians.

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